ABC13 helps ill student fight truancy fine

May 28, 2011 5:51:50 AM PDT
A Deer Park High School student who's been fighting his school district while dealing with a serious brain disorder has a little less to worry about.

Playing soccer with his nephew is not something McDermott takes for granted -- and for good reason.

The 18-year-old Deer Park High School senior has a shunt in his head to alleviate the debilitating symptoms of a chronic condition he's been living with since infancy. It's called hydrocephalus, the medical term for fluid on the brain.

Difficulties are not uncommon.

"It feels like pretty much your brain is being smashed. It feels like there is a vice on your head and you can't stand the pain," McDermott said.

This year alone, McDermott has undergone five brain surgeries due to complications, which caused him to miss a lot of school. He once spent more than three weeks at Texas Children's Hospital. His sister claims she was religious about updating school administrators and providing doctor's notes.

"They just kept saying oh don't worry about it. We're taking care of everything. All of his homework is gonna be covered," said his sister, Michelle Metcalf.

So you can imagine how surprised they were when a Harris County constable showed up at their house Thursday night and slapped him with a $510 fine for missing school and a summons to appear in court.

"You don't really know how to react; I mean $510, that's quite a bit of money," McDermott said.

The McDermotts contacted us after they tried to explain it to the school. They claim they were told they'd have to wait until Tuesday when the truant officer was in.

We questioned Deer Park ISD about it and late Friday afternoon, and a district spokesman told us, "After talking to the mom, we had the case dismissed."

Everyone is relieved.

"I have had canceled probably my biggest plans for the summer," McDermott said.

"They need to get the kinks out of the school system, you know, in the attendance office or wherever it happened," Metcalf said.

McDermott is graduating next week and plans to go to college in Chicago to study criminal justice. He hopes to become a police officer.

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