Several local judges who have spoken out about truancy issues in the Hamilton County Schools on Friday voiced their concern about students "who fail to understand the life consequences of conduct that results in a criminal conviction."
Earlier this week, criminal charges were brought against four McCallie School students and nine Signal Mountain High School students after a fight on the Signal Mountain campus.
City Judge Sherry Paty said, "We cannot ethically comment on any pending criminal case involving any student. However, we can speak generally about the consequences of a criminal conviction."
Judge Paty said, "All criminal convictions are a life sentence. Such convictions remain on a person's record forever."
General Sessions Court Judge Bob Moon said, "I do not believe that anyone is informing students of the lifelong consequences of a criminal conviction. Almost weekly, people come to us begging to have a conviction removed from their record in order to get a good job. Unfortunately, unless those cases were diverted years ago, nothing can be done to ever remove a criminal conviction from their record. In fact, on all employment applications for any job worth having, the question is always there, 'Have you ever been convicted of a crime? If so, give full details.'
"Too many kids do not take a long range view of their life and future. They do not realize that you have to plan a future to have one. A criminal conviction compromises a good job as well as a good life."
Judge Moon added, "I had a woman last week who lost the opportunity to obtain a $60,000 a year job plus benefits because she had a $2 theft conviction when she was 19."
Judge Bob Moon also noted, "The criminal record of most students began with truancy."
Red Bank City Judge Johnny Houston said, "Most parents can expect some mischief and pranks from teenage kids and some alcohol indulging, but serious and disruptive conduct is out of the range of expectation and goes too far."
General Sessions Court Judge David Bales said, "The maturity level in too many kids is not what it was 20 years ago. Of course, the maturity level in too many of the parents that come before us is not what it used to be. At the end of the day, the prevailing question of every parent should be, 'How responsible is my kid and what has been the history of their choices and judgment so far?'"