The school’s rules are strict: A note has to be submitted within three days of a student’s return to school for an absence to be considered excused. With three other children and an elderly father to care for, keeping up with things like that “becomes overwhelming,” Yolanda says.
Occasionally, when her daughter missed school, she would forget to send a note explaining Raquel’s absence. In accordance with Texas state law, 10 unexcused absences in a six-month period will result in a charge of truancy, and in March 2013, when Raquel was in eighth grade, Yolanda received a letter informing her that the state had filed a charge of “failure to attend school” against her daughter. She tried to talk to school administrators about it, Yolanda says, but they told her, “All you can do is go to court and just get it straightened out.”