Since the 2003-2004 school year, the Harris County District Attorney's Office, along with numerous governmental and non-profit partners, has administered a truancy prevention program called "the Stay in School Program".
The Stay in School Program emphasizes early intervention to attain its goals: to increase student attendance in Harris County schools, to reduce the number of students dropping out of high school, to reduce juvenile crime, and to identify students and parents in need of social services related to anti-social and criminal behavior.
The District Attorney's Truancy Section sends out a warning letter to parents when their child accumulates three unexcused absences. While the warning letters are very effective, some cases require the filing of criminal truancy charges against the student and/or parent(s). The goal of prosecutors in the Truancy Section and our partners is to divert truancy defendants from convictions while attempting to address the causes of a particular student's absences from school. However, the prosecutors utilize all of the resources within law to obtain compliance, and a conviction can lead to fines of up to $500 plus court costs, other sanctions, and possible criminal contempt prosecution.
We work with TRIAD, CYS, seven Harris County Justice Courts, Juvenile Probation, three Juvenile District Courts, twelve school districts, four alternative schools, and five Constables, to effectively prosecute truant students and parents and assure that students are attending school.