HOUSTON—A judge threw a 17-year-old 11th grade honor student from Willis High School in jail after she missed school again.
Judge Lanny Moriarty said last month Diane Tran was in his Justice of the Peace court for truancy and he warned her then to stop missing school. But she recently missed classes again so Wednesday he issued a summons and had her arrested in open court when she appeared.
Tran said she works a full-time job, a part-time job and takes advanced placement and dual credit college level courses. She said she is often too exhausted to wake up in time for school. Sometimes she misses the entire day, she said. Sometimes she arrives after attendance has been taken.
The judge ordered Tran to spend 24 hours in jail and pay a $100 fine. Judge Moriarty admitted that he wants to make an example of Tran.
“If you let one (truant student) run loose, what are you gonna’ do with the rest of ‘em? Let them go too?” Judge Moriarty asked.
Tran said she is working so hard because she is helping to support an older brother who attends Texas A&M University and a baby sister who lives with relatives in Houston. Tran said her parents divorced “out of the blue” and both moved away, leaving her in Willis. Her mother lives in Georgia, she said.
“I always thought our family was happy,” the teen said tearfully.
Tran lives with the family of one of her employers. They own a wedding venue. She works at the Vineyard of Waverly Manor on weekends and at a dry cleaners full time.
“She goes from job to job, from school she stays up ‘til 7 o’clock in the morning,” said her friend, co-worker and classmate Devin Hill.