A total of 13 East Montgomery County students ages 17 or older spent their weekend in the Montgomery County Jail, and seven mothers were court ordered to begin attending school with their children Monday morning. When Pct. 4 students receive citations for failure to attend classes, they are required to appear before Justice of the Peace James Metts. Those under the age of 17 must be accompanied by at least one parent and those 17 years or older may face the judge alone or with parents.
Judge Metts handed down the 72-hour jail sentences and other court orders during Thursday’s “Fail to Attend” court as part of his ongoing effort to ensure youngsters in his precinct get an education. It is important to note that none of those jailed or parents ordered to attend school with their children were in Metts’ court for the first time.
“They’ve been in court for failure to attend before, they were court ordered to attend school and they were warned of the consequences of failing to do so,” Judge Metts said. “I’m hoping this will get their attention and show them where they’re headed if they choose to break laws, which in this case is the law requiring them to attend school.”
“I’ve said it before – many of those in prison today had their first experience with the criminal justice system as students who refused to attend school,” he said.
Seven students who were under the age of 17 and ignored the Judge’s previous warnings did not go to jail, but were probably just as unhappy with the consequences of their actions when their mothers were court ordered to attend school and sit in their classes with them.
Students offered a variety of excuses for non-attendance, with a few simply saying “I’m just lazy.” Others said they had been sick frequently, or had difficulty waking up in time to catch the bus.
Judge Metts responded with his trademark, “I’ll bet if they were handing out $100 bills you’d manage to be there.” He also told them he would not have “had the heart” to put his mother through what they were doing to theirs.
The judge concedes not everyone agrees with his methods, but says the attendance rate has increased significantly in East Montgomery County since his methods were implemented, according to school officials.
“I only want what’s best for our children- I want them to have every opportunity to succeed in life,” Judge Metts said. “Without a high school diploma, they’ll be starting out with a major disadvantage that simply isn’t necessary.”