HOUSTON—As the case of a teenage honor student who was thrown in jail after missing too much school gains international attention, the judge who sentenced her is offering no comment.
When Diane Tran got home from jail last week she explained the worst thing about being locked up.
"I can’t do my homework, can’t do anything. Just have to sit in there," Tran said.
Tran said she cares about her grades, but working two jobs to help support siblings sometimes leaves her too exhausted to make it to class at Willis High. Tran said she missed about 18 days.
The law is clear and universal and says any student older than 12 and younger than 18 cannot miss more than 10 days of school in a six-month period.
Her classmates said her punishment did not fit the crime.
"It’s ridiculous," said Ashley Davis, a Willis High School student.
Taylor Lowery, another student, agreed.
"I don’t agree with it. I think it’s ridiculous. It’s one thing to give her hours to make up but not to throw her in jail," she said.
Judge Lanny Moriarty talked to KHOU 11 News Anchor Sherry Williams last week about the case, but not this time.
"I’m only back because he said he might reconsider the Diane Tran case, so I’m here to ask if he did reconsider," she said to his staff.
She got a firm "no comment" from the staff.
KHOU 11 News legal analyst Gerald Treece pointed out that Tran did not go to jail on a truancy charge. It’s a Class C misdemeanor and not a jail-able offense. But contempt of court is, and that’s the charge on her record.
The contempt is for violating a previous court order to not miss school.
"When you apply to college, or when you go to grad school, they ask if you have ever been convicted of anything.—I mean anything folks, and being in contempt of a judge, contempt of court is something that requires a lot of explaining," Treece said.
State law requires all Texas school districts to report excessive absences, but the judge in this case, or any other, has the power to be lenient.
"Is it a violation of the law, yes. We’re not talking about if it’s a violation of the law. We’re talking about is the punishment appropriate and proportional to what she did wrong," Treece said.
The outpouring of support for Tran has been phenomenal. KHOU 11 News has heard from people from around the nation and the world who want to help her.
Tran and her surrogate family were working with a bank in New Waverly Tuesday to open a trust fund. We will provide that information as soon as it’s set up.