Legal Board Question of the Month

December 2019

Question: Parent Contributing to Non-Attendance/Truant Conduct question – The school has a policy that if a student is late 15 minutes or more late to school/class it’s considered a LOSIT (Loss of Significant Instructional Time). Would this be considered a part of a day? I know if a student is late to school or class it’s a tardy. Based off the law can the school district use this LOSIT as part of the tenth absence within the six month period? Again this is the District’s policy.

Answer: School district policy doesn’t impact Texas law. This question was recently answered, and can be found by searching the board for the word tardies.

In a 1993 opinion, the attorney general concluded that absences generally do not include tardiness to class, especially if the student is present on the campus but late to class. The particular circumstances of a child’s tardiness on a certain day may be sufficiently egregious to constitute an absence, but school districts should not routinely classify each instance of tardiness as an absence for purposes of truancy. (Op. Tex. Att’y Gen. No. DM-200 (1993)). This would also apply to parent contributing to nonattendance cases.

Also note that the court should not be involved in determining which truancy cases a prosecutor should file. If and when a case is filed, the court’s role is to make a determination on that case.

December Spotlight – Hon. Mark Russo, Justice of the Peace, Rockwall County Pct. 3

Tell us a bit about yourself
I am originally from Canton, Ohio, and the rock singer Marilyn Manson was my neighbor (I believe the water is safe.) I have degrees in Culinary and Broadcasting.  For 20 years, I have also been a pro wrestler, worked in Radio and TV, as well as been involved in historic preservation. I am married to Nicole and have two amazing boys Alex and Lincoln.

In 2008 I was elected to Rockwall City Council and was selected as Mayor Pro-Tem in 2011. I then ran in 2012 for Justice of the Peace and won. I have been involved in JPCA and TAC since being elected and believe I get the weirdest cases TJCTC has ever heard of (Right Thea?!!). I have also served on various committees throughout the state.

Personally, I may be the most energetic and creative person you will ever meet. Truly passionate and I love people and making a difference in people’s lives. Every day should be an adventure!

What made you decide to become a Justice of the Peace?
I ran for a newly created Justice of the Peace position. Every aspect of this job energizes me. The Justice of the Peace position in Rockwall County is very diverse. Every day is different. This job allows me to be able to utilize different facets of my talents and challenges me every day! I enjoy coming up with out of the box solutions.

What is something innovative, interesting or fun your office does? During Christmas we honor the twelve days of Christmas and sometimes the Elf on the Shelf attacks the office.

What is the best part of your job?
The best part of my job is being able to make a difference in people’s lives. Every moment and interaction can have a positive impact on someone. I have found that I can make a big difference by taking a little extra time on the bench. It’s great to have a job you can love every day.

What makes a good judge? A positive attitude, humility, and willingness to be a good listener.


Click here for Fees and Costs Cheat Sheet and FAQ

TJCTC has released its cheat sheet for the significant changes in Fees and Costs implemented by the Texas Legislature. Note that following discussions with OCA and others, we have clarified our position that the State Traffic Fine is treated as a fine and not a court cost. Also, there was a typo in some versions of the PowerPoint regarding the amount of costs on Rules of the Road parking/pedestrian offense.

Please review this information carefully, and discuss it with your court software provider, and other officials such as auditors and treasurers, as needed.