Truancy FAQ

What options does a court have if the student fails to show up at the hearing in a truant conduct case?  Can a writ of attachment be issued to have the student picked up and taken before the truancy court?

Students are informed that they must attend a hearing in truancy court by means of a summons. See Section 65.057.  The summons will have also been delivered to a parent.  The summons can (but is not required to) direct the parent to bring the child to the hearing. See Section 65.057(c). A truancy court would likely want to have this type of direction in every summons going to a parent.  Hopefully this provision results in most students showing up for the hearing.

But what if the child doesn’t show up for the hearing?  The main thing that can be done does not involve the child directly.  Rather, the main thing that can be done involves the child’s parent.  Specifically, the truancy court may issue a writ of attachment against the parent (assuming the parent has been ordered to bring the child to the hearing). See Section 65.254.  So the onus is really being put on the parent to make sure that the child shows up for the hearing.

The case would have to be reset and another summons would have to be issued to the child (and to the parent).  The new provisions allow a constable to serve the summons on the child and others.  But the new law does not envision a constable being able to arrest a child and physically bring him or her to the hearing.  The law does not envision the court ever issuing a warrant to have a no-show student picked up and taken to the hearing.  It’s not clear whether any conscious thought was given to this kind of an “I-refuse-to-show-up” scenario.  This may be an issue that should be addressed in the next legislative session or in Supreme Court rules. (Ted Wood, Office of Court Administration)