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CLEVELAND -- A mother in Cleveland thought she was following the rules when she called to have her daughter kept home from school. But now, the mother and daughter are facing truancy charges.

Stephanie Coolidge, 18, is an ambitious high school senior. She earns honors at Cleveland High School, and works after school at a clinic.

Her dream is to one day become an engineer.

But instead of focusing on her hard work, her mother believes the district has been too focused on her attendance.

Since September, the parents say she has missed 19 days of school. The most were spent recovering from appendicitis. Some were spent helping her mom after surgery, and the rest were from getting sick.

Every time she had to miss a day of school, Stephanie s parents say they let the school know.

I did as I was supposed to, to not only protect my child but also the other children at school, mother Pamela Weisel said.

But now they have learned the school has not excused 12 of the absences, which means misdemeanor charges and potentially thousands of dollars in fines for the family.

We never knew there was an issue until the hearing papers showed up, said Nathan Weisel, Stephanie s stepfather.

I honestly see where they re coming from, cause at my school there s a high dropout rate, a lot of kids do drugs, bring drugs to school, said Stephanie Coolidge. But I m not skipping class.

A spokeswoman for the district said it does not matter if a student is excused or unexcused by a parent. They must be in class at least 90 percent of the time.

The spokesperson said Coolidge was not present enough, and now the principal is working with family to resolve the matter.

On Monday, Stephanie and her parents will meet with the Cleveland ISD s attendance board. This may be their only hope for avoiding court.

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