Diane Tran, 17, honor student who works two jobs to support her siblings after her parents divorced, was sentenced to jail for truancy. Judge Lanny Moriarty ordered Tran, the sole breadwinner of her family, to pay $100 fine and spend 24 hrs in jail.
The Daily Mail reports that Tran works a full time job, a part-time job and takes advancement and dual credit college level courses at Willis High School. According to Daily Mail, she said: "[I take] dual credit U.S. history, dual credit English literacy, college algebra, Spanish language AP."
Having to combine two jobs with schooling often leaves Tran exhausted and she often misses an entire day at school, Khou 11 News reports. Tran said she is often too exhausted to wake up in time for school. She says that sometimes she arrives in school after attendance has been taken.
According to Khou 11 News, Tran said her parents divorced suddenly, leaving her and her two siblings to fend for themselves. She said: "I always thought our family was happy."
Ms. Tran works to support her siblings who, according to Khou 11 News, includes an older brother at Texas A&M University and a younger sister who lives with relatives.
The Daily Mail reports that in spite of her circumstances, the judge ordered Tran to pay a fine of $100 for truancy and spend 24 hours in jail. According to Khou 11 News, Judge Moriarty admitted that his intention was to make an example of Tran.
NY Daily News reports that Texas State law says that students who are absent from school without parental consent for three days in a month or ten days or more in a six-month period may be prosecuted.
According to CBS Atlanta, the judge felt there was more at stake in the case than Tran's personal situation. Judge Lanny Moriarty said sternly: "If you let one [truant student] run loose, what are you gonna' do with the rest of 'em? Let them go too?"
Moriarty, according to Daily Mail, had warned Tran to stop missing her classes. Khou 11 News reports that Moriarty said that last month Tran appeared in his Justice of the Peace court for truancy and he warned her about missing school, but Tran began missing classes again, so she was summoned and arrested on Wednesday.
Daily Mail reports that the homepage of the website of Tran's school carries a message that warns students about truancy. The message said: "Should a student have multiple unexcused absences and a pattern of failing to attend school regularly, the law is clear that the matter becomes the jurisdiction of the court system."
But Tran's weekend employer at the Waverly Manor wedding venue, suggested that instead of the authorities punishing Tran they should intervene and "help [the family], don't harm them."
Devin Hill, Tran's co-worker at the dry-cleaners where she has full-time employment, said Tran works so hard. Hill said: "She goes from job to job, from school, she stays up 'til 7 o'clock in the morning to study."
Khou 11 News reports that Tran lives with the family of her employer who owns a wedding venue. She works at the Vineyard of the Waverly Manor on Weekends and at a dry cleaners full time.
Daily Mail reports many people are saying that given her special circumstances Tran's case should be treated with leniency.
Jezebel.com wonders at the lack of judicial empathy but reports that Tran has won over the public with an interview on Houston news station Khou-11 News (see video above). She has also received plenty of support on Facebook with angry letters on her behalf.
MSN comments that, "Texas apparently wants to leave no doubt it is the 'Least Compassionate State in the Union.'"
According to Jezebel.com, her part-time employer is working to set up a fund in her name at a local bank.