Truancy FAQ

What if the child was served with the summons, but the parent was not timely served.  Can the hearing go forward?  In other words, is service of the summons on the parent required before the hearing can proceed?

The statute appears to allow the hearing to go forward even in the absence of the parent being timely served.  However, Section 65.101 instructs the judge to give certain warnings at the beginning of the adjudication hearing.  One of those warnings is the child has the right to a jury trial.  Section 65.008 tells us that a child may waive his or her rights – including the right to a jury trial.  But such a waiver may be made only if the child’s parent (or guardian) signs the waiver.  So if a parent is not in attendance at the hearing, the parent cannot sign the waiver document.  And without a signed waiver document, there is no valid waiver.  And if there is no valid waiver, a non-jury hearing cannot go forward.  So as the practical matter, the court could not proceed with the hearing and the hearing would have to be reset. (Ted Wood, Office of Court Administration)