Pct. 4 Justice of the Peace James Metts demonstrated his seriousness about two topics this week – juveniles skipping school and their parents lying for them. When one mother took protecting her rule breaking child to the extreme, Judge Metts sent her to jail on felony charges.
Lisa Higginson, 30, of New Caney is charged with tampering / fabrication physical evidence, which is a third-degree felony.
When a student has repeated unexcused absences, they and their parents are required to go before the Judge. On March 10 Metts sentenced 21 students, ages 17 to 19 (adults in the eyes of the law) to three days in jail for violating court orders and his instructions to attend school.
On Thursday, Higginson went to court to defend her son, armed with doctor’s notes excusing the juvenile’s five unexcused absences this semester from New Caney High School, Metts said.
“They looked like they’d been altered,” he said. “We asked her to wait and we called the doctor’s office and learned the young man hadn’t been in this year at all, and only had one office visit in 2008.”
Metts said it was bad enough the woman lied to the court, but the worst part was it was done in front of her son who knew she was lying.
The Assistant District Attorney working intake accepted the charges and Higginson was arrested escorted from the court by deputies with the Pct. 4 office of Constable Kenneth “Rowdy” Hayden to the Montgomery County Jail in Conroe. Family members agreed to pick up her son.
Metts gave the other parents in his courtroom a strong warning after Higginson’s arrest.
“If you present something to this court, you’d better make sure it’s authentic,” Metts said.
One mother who told Metts’ staff she had doctor’s notes when she arrived suddenly had no notes or excuses when it was her turn before the judge.
Metts said the message was similar to that sent by the 21 arrests and by the recent arrests by Hayden’s deputies of truant juveniles believed to be on a burglary spree.
“Make your kids go to school,” he said.
Hayden did not sugar coat his reaction either.
“To me it says that the apple does not fall far from the tree,” Hayden said. “The parents of these children should be held responsible for the children’s absence from school as well as the children.”
Hayden said his officers remain ready to act when Judge Metts uses the phrase “contempt of court.”
Metts said his mission is not to place people in jail for truancy, but to prevent the youngsters from throwing their lives away before they realize what they are doing.