Texas Legislature debates truancy bill amid Valley teen's death

A bill that would make it harder for parents to be prosecuted for contributing to a child's truancy was approved this week by the senate.

Action 4 News spoke to a group of students at a Rio Grande Valley high school about the girls that went into the Donna canal after skipping school, and if parents should be held responsible for kids skipping out on school.

The truancy bill was approved by the Texas Senate, and if made into law, parents could only be charged with criminal negligence if parents intentionally contribute to their child's absence.

It's a crime that apparently hundreds, even thousands of Valley students are committing including three girls from Donna just this week.

"Call the school. Make sure they're there," said Jackie Garcia, a high school senior.

After skipping school the girls went into the Donna canal and had to be rescued from the treacherous waters.

One girl died days later after being taken off life support.

"They're lives are barely starting and for her to have ended it that way, I think it's very sad," said Cindy Salazar, a high school senior.

Coincidently, the same day Elsa Flores and her friends decided to cut class, the Texas Senate approved a bill on truancy that would make it harder for parents to be prosecuted for contributing to a child's absence.

Nydia Leandro said she's glad the senate approved this truancy bill because she said her sisters have skipped out on school, but her mother never intentionally allows her sister to commit truancy.

Nydia said her mother-a single parent works all day, and when she is around, she tries to lay down the law as much as she can, but that still didn't stop Nydia's sistesr from skipping school.

"They were in a lot of trouble because well my mom wasn't always there to be like|no," said Nydia.

Nydia said her mother is a strict parent, but as a single parent, she could only do so much.

"My sisters they would get in trouble," Nydia said. "They would get grounded, but as they got older, they cared less and didn't really listen to my mom anymore."

According to the Texas Education Agency, in 2010 from as little as 12 to over 830 students committed truancy in each district.

It's something schools struggle with each year, and if the truancy bill passes, parents won't be legally responsible for the act unless it's proven that they intentionally caused the absence.

Some districts offer a truancy hotline so that you can report a student you believe is skipping out on school.

Contact your district for more information.