Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Well he did have one fact correct, apparently BISD or the JP truancy clerk was not properly notifying the DA's office that when dealing with children 15 and under an ADA had to be present before a guilty plea could be accepted. The 15 year old needing an ADA is the only thing he got right.  It is also possible now that the rule is known, DA Saenz just decided to not staff the court, thereby ending the hearings.  No one is talking beyond saying, no more hearings.
Here is the deal, such as the attorneys in Cameron county, after years of no one following the law, or to say winging it, winging it became the rule - well sort of.
Juantito as is his wont is 7 months late on this story.  In fact even as to the DA not bringing cases, it is an old story on the BV.
For months, I have been in discussions on this issue of the truancy court being moved over to the municipal court.  I have discussed the matter directly with Charlie Cabler and BISD officials who oversee truancy.  This is how I have been able to report factually on the story.
Can anyone even tell me what this quote means?  To me it means Juanito made no effort to speak with the people at BISD who oversee truancy - because had he, he would have learned JP Erin Garcia was moving away from the process of prosecution. 
" In the past BISD wanted JP 2-2 Erin Garcia to take over all truancy cases because of her "success" in prosecuting those cases. However, in light of the fiscal and procedural problems and social consequences associated with the schools handing the paddle to the courts to discipline truant students, that approach may have turned out to have been badly misguided. "
Here is a fact verified to me by BISD, JP Erin Garcia chose to use the hearings as a way to help the children rather than punish them with fines.  Many children were given the option of counseling to help deal with family or personal problems.  BISD was forced to look into the needs of the child which in some cases identified why the child was missing school - such  as classroom anxiety.
Many children were redirected with the assistance of BISD rather than actually being found guilty of anything.
This is what Juanito calls a mistake - making sure special needs children get the right classes so they can avoid classroom anxiety, or counseling for personal or family problems - all bad according to Juanito.
This success lead to the discussion of moving the truancy courts over to municipal court.  As the BV has repeatedly noted school districts and states are getting sued over the misuse of the truancy courts to punish children, especially special needs children.  The BV has documented this many times.
You see without the truancy cases, Mary Esther Garcia's court is not needed - you get it now - Sofie Benavides and Mary Esther Garcia are panicking as the reality gets out that JP court 2-3 is not needed, which will leave Mary Esther Garcia without a job.  You get it, for a fee the story was a distraction from the wasted tax dollars going to Mary Esther Garcia, to put blame on the bogie man - which as the record shows - actually helped the kids instead of finding them guilty.
Why did Juanito ignore this story for 7 months?  It was not yet obvious Mary Esther Garcia's court is not needed.
BISD special services and those over truancy understand the problem, which is why they wanted JP Erin Garcia in charge of all of the cases.  She was not finding the kids guilty as a matter of course.  The first objective was to find out if there was a cause which could be resolved.  If the cause for the truancy could be resolved BISD and JP Erin Garcia went with the solution, instead of the fine.
BISD decided to ask the COB to create a special municipal judge for truancy cases only.  BISD wanted a judge who would continue the policies of JP Erin Garcia.  Charlie Cabler wanted the cases rotated among all of the part-time municipal judges.  This defeated the purpose of the change.
The COB then decided that if BISD wanted one judge, BISD would have to pay 100% of the salary and benefits, but that the COB would do the hiring. Well - isn't that nice - BISD pays and the COB gets the power to hire.
The two entities went back and fourth and could not find a solution - so it died.
DA Saenz became aware of the situation and the problems with the JP's not following the 15 year old rule requiring an ADA present and decided he was not going to staff the JP courts with an ADA in order to follow the law.  So everything came to a standstill.
This is why just last week or so I recommended a full-time truancy-mediator to intervene before the matter has to go to court to in effect do what JP Erin Garcia was doing - asking the question to the student "what can I do to help you?"  The horror of it all, a judge trying to help a child - it should shock no one Juanito would denounce such conduct.
BISD cannot be stopped from filing truancy cases.  The idea is just nonsense.  But the court coordinator for truancy cases can refuse to set them for hearing if the DA is refusing to assign a DA to oversee the cases.
The reality is, BISD can and should take DA Saenz on a trial mandamus to compel him to staff the JP courts with an ADA to prosecute truancy cases.  Of course the better solution is, BISD should hire a full-time truancy mediator to intervene before it reaches the point a case needs to be filed.

No comments: