By Wyatt Goolsby
ODESSA - School may be out for the summer, but some Ector County students are having to make up time for skipping classes. It's been a little more than a year since the Odessa Municipal Court took authority over thousands of truancy cases. But now, judges say they have a better handle on all of them. In fact, they're hoping to have most of the work done by the end of the month.
"We have just finished up our first full academic year since the city had taken the program over again," Judge Dennis Jones with the Odessa Municipal Court, said.
Court is still in session for students skipping school in Odessa, and there's more Truancy cases still ahead. However, Judge Jones said at least this time, they won't have to reinvent the wheel.
"In the Spring of 2007, we were dealing with a tremedous backlog of cases that had been building since the beginning of school roughly of August of 2006. So, it took us until now to be pretty well caught up," Jones said.
He said this year, they've heard about 2,400 cases, with a little over a thousand still to go. And while Court Judges say they take each student case by case, there's still one central message:
"I try to stress upon them not only is it the law, not only has the State Legislature require that they remain in school, but it's also in their long-term and society in general's long-term best interest for them to have an education," Jones explained.
In addition, Jones said the best way to avoid bad results, don't miss class and make the same mistake twice.
"If they will do that, then the rest of the things that can happen, usually don't happen," Jones added.
Jones said he has a lot of leeway in Truancy Court. He can order service hours, Detention Hall, or Counciling Sessions. Again, most of these cases are expected to be finished by the end of June.