Judge dismisses contempt charges against truant honor student Diane Tran

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by Sherry Williams / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on May 30, 2012 at 5:19 PM

Updated Wednesday, May 30 at 6:20 PM

CONROE, Texas – A Montgomery County judge has dismissed contempt charges against a 17-year-old honor student at Willis High School.

Diane Tran was sent to jail for a day, after missing about 18 days of school this year.

Her case gained international attention after the public learned about Tran’s situation – she said she makes all A’s, but she works two jobs to help support her siblings. Sometimes, Tran said she’s simply too exhausted to attend class.

But in Montgomery County, officials – like Judge Lanny Moriarty, who sent Tran to jail—are tough on truancy.

The law is clear: students between the ages of 12 and 18 cannot miss more than 10 days of school in a six-month period.

Violators can be charged with truancy, a Class C misdemeanor. But students like Tran, who was previously ordered by the court not to miss any more school, can face more serious charges, like contempt of court.

KHOU 11 News talked to Montgomery County Precinct 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts, who said he’s received thank-you notes from parents and students who’ve been on the wrong side of the law with the county’s tough-love truancy policy.

Metts said if Tran had showed up in his court, he might have done the same thing Judge Moriarty did.

Metts said it all depends on the factors in the case.

"How many times she’s been here, what the school has done prior to her being here… If she’d been before me numerous times, she’d have probably gone to jail for three days instead of one," Metts said. "Where will you draw the line? How many breaks are enough? How many times should you skate? If you give this kid a break, you’ve gotta give them all a break."

But now, it looks like Tran will get another break. She retained the services of noted Houston attorney Brian Wice Wednesday, and hours later, she learned the charges against her were dismissed.

Wice said there was a third-party fund collecting money -- purportedly for Tran -- but noted that he and his client have no control over it. He did say, however, that any money Tran does receive will be donated to someone less fortunate than she.

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