Truancy Problems

Shanda Pearson is an Angelina County mother who believes the court should hold children more responsible for truancy instead of the parents.

"They call the parents into court and threaten to fine them or send them to jail, but the child ends up going back to school and doing the same thing over again," she said.

She's gone to trucancy court twice about her son. According to the law, a school has to report any student who has 10 or more days of unexcused absences in a 6 month period.

"It's mandatory," said Angelina County Justice Court Precinct 1 Judge Billy Ball. "The school has to file. Then they file on the parent for contributing because under the family code and the education code, the parent is responsible to ensure that the child goes to school."

"Once we drop them off at school we can't be with them the rest of the day. And then you get a call that evening saying that your child was not at school and it's already past the time that they were supposed to be at school," Pearson added.

Pearson believes the court should have some type of intervention program in place to discourage truancy.

"I've brought business leaders in here to speak to these kids. Is that not an intervention program? I've brought the military in to talk to these kids. I've brought prisoners in to talk to these kids and that's an intervention program," Ball told us.

Some truants are even ordered to do community service. Those who test positive for drugs are ordered to participate in programs with organizations like the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council and DETCOG. Statistics show truants are likely to drop out of school and turn to drugs and crime. So the goal is to encourage them to stay in school.

"The have consequences as well and it's the kids that are going to be affected the most if they don't attend school becuase it's their future that it's ruining," Angelina County Juvenile Probation Officer Eric Young told us.

"I can't use you. I can't use you if you don't have an education. The work has become more technical and I can get an educated person so why should I hire you if you're a drop out," Ball said.

Court officials tell us last year alone, Angelina County had a nearly 9 percent drop out rate.