From the desk of Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts
As we continue to combat the truancy problem in Precinct 4, a disturbing trend is increasing. More and more parents of truant students have begun coming into court stating they plan to “home school” their children, but failing to do so. I have nothing against the practice of home schooling. It can be very successful when handled properly and is a better alternative for some families.
However, home schooling is not for everyone and it is certainly no way to avoid penalties for poor attendance. Home schooling requires more responsibility on the part of the student and more supervision on the part of the parent, along with the expense of the program. Some families learn that the hard way and their children return to public school. Either way is fine, as long as the student is receiving an education. Finding the way that works best is up to the family, but a way must be found.
Unfortunately, an increasing number of people are standing before me, falsely claiming they are home schooling their kids, or stating they have chosen that alternative without realizing those lies will have consequences. I tell each and every parent who says they have chosen home school they must return and prove their enrollment and show me the curriculum. When they fail to do so, they are held accountable.
In some cases, the students pressure their parents into agreeing to home schooling, not realizing the requirements or the rules, including that the student remain at home during school hours, since that has become their school. If they are caught roaming the streets and those sorts of things during the school day, there will also be consequences.
This is not something I do to be mean. My concern is for the children’s futures and without a high school diploma, statistics show their futures are probably bleak. As I’ve stated repeatedly, many of the inmates in Texas prisons today had their first interaction with the criminal justice system as juveniles who failed to attend school. A high school diploma does not guarantee success in life, but it provides a foundation and removes what can be a major stumbling block on the road to success.
If there are extenuating circumstances relating to attendance, I am always willing to listen and my staff and I will do whatever we can to help guide families in the right direction. Every situation is different, and that is why each student and parent or guardian has the opportunity to appear in court and explain why they are not receiving a proper education when it is offered at no cost to them.
I would like to see each and every student in Precinct 4 receive a high school diploma, and there is no reason that cannot happen.