A 15-year-old Bryan High School sophomore spent Tuesday morning in Justice of the Peace Tommy Munoz's courtroom. He was one of 21 cases for Bryan High School Judge Munoz heard in truancy court.
"I just didn't show up, and sometimes I skipped too," the 15-year-old told News 3.
The student told News 3 the Judge ordered him to attend tutorials to make up his 36 absences from school. Most of the students who attended truancy court Tuesday had more than 25 absences from school.
Judge Munoz said he has tried a variety of ways to get students back in school. He said he's ordered parents to attend classes with students, and has ordered truants to attend tutorials to make up the classes they've missed. Tuesday, he told the courtroom or parents and truants he was taking a more aggressive approach.
"If your son or daughter does not want to get up and go to school, you call my office and I will send the constable to go get them out of bed and bring them to school. Is this intended to embarrass you? Yes it is, because the law says they need to be in school and if they don't want to get up, well we're going to get them there," said Judge Munoz.
Judge Munoz ordered a handful of truants including one with 56 absences to carry a handheld GPS tracking device with them at all times. The Attendance Improvement Management Program or AIM, has been used across Texas and the United States. Truants will be required to key in a numeric code five times a day: when they're leaving home, when they get to school, after lunch, when they're leaving campus, and when they make it home before curfew. For students 15-years-old or younger the curfew is 8 p.m., students who are 16-years-old or older must abide by a 9 p.m. curfew. The tracking device will also be used for counseling purposes. Three to five times a week, truants who have the device will receive a phone call from a counselor who will discuss how their day progressed and setting goals for improvement.
Ruth Waller, Assistant Principal and Truancy Officer at Bryan High School said the new tracking device program will hopefully have positive results that will get chronic school skippers on the path to graduation.
In addition to the tracking devices, every one of the truants or their parents who appeared in Judge Munoz's courtroom Tuesday were required pay court costs and fines. Thursday, truants from Rudder High School are scheduled to appear before Judge Munoz.
For more information on the AIM program, click on the link below.