Truant Students Get Ultimate Detention - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

12/14/06-Tyler

Truant Students Get Ultimate Detention

Dozens of at risk teens sat in Judge Quincy Beaver's truancy court today as FBI agents, judges and lawyers painted a bleak picture of life without a high school diploma.

U.S. Assistant Attorney Richard Moore says, "Nationwide, over 80 percent of people in prison, 8 out of 10, didn't graduate from high school."

For many of these students, like Eriberto Contreras of Tyler missing school is a chronic problem. He's in the 11th grade and he has a total of 67 days unexcused absences this year.

Those kinds of absences often lead to dropping out; a problem that varies from district to district.

Of the schools we looked at from the Texas Education Agency, the problem is the worst in Tyler. In 2003, more than 7% of the district students dropped out. Longview, Gilmer and Henderson fell in the middle, but in Jacksonville and Canton, virtually no one is dropping out.

Today, the judge issued Contreras a 33k dollar fine he'll only have to pay if he does not return to school and graduate.

He says having that sort of consequence in front of him scared him enough to return to school.

Judge Beavers says he and 4 other Smith County judges hold truancy court about two times a month. He says that each of them generally sees about 100 cases every time.

Lindsay Wilcox/Reporting: lwilcox@kltv.com

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