Bell County Hires New Judges To Tackle Truancy Cases

Local News

BELL COUNTY, Texas – Bell County is now cracking down on students who miss school.

The Commissioners Court voted unanimously to appoint two new judges to bench. The two men, Don Engleking and Garland Potvin, have previously served as Justices of the Peace in Bell County.

“The goal of this program is to get kids who are, for whatever reason, thinking that being in school is not important to them. To recognize how important it truly is,” says Bell County Commissioner Bobby Whitson.

Whitson was at the Commissioners meeting on Monday, where members voted 4-0 to appoint the new judges.

“The request was from our J-P Precinct 2, Chris Coleman to give him a little help with the Truancy court,” Whitman says.

Truancy cases in Bell County have skyrocketed compared to last fall.

Back in 2018, there were 70 cases.  This year so far, there have been nearly 170.

“The program has been successful, which is why more schools, particular is KISD, have come on board and using the program more,” Whitman adds.

Students will be summoned to court and taken by truancy officers. The court will put their case on a docket, where they will see the judge.

Students will be given obligations to complete, depending the severity of the case.

“The more time we have between when a child starts having issues and the time we get them back in school permanently, then the harder it is to get them on the right track,” Whitson says.

Judge Garland Potvin is expected to begin his position on Thursday, October 21. There is no word on when Engleking will begin his.

The part-time position is expected to last until May 2020.

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