Click HERE to see current legislation dealing with the truancy problem in Nebraska.
Zephree Mullen said she was scared when her second grader Isabella refused to go to school every morning.
"It made me kinda nervous, because I didn't understand why, you know. And being so young, all the kids like school," Mullen said.
Zephree didn't have reliable transportation, and Isabella was tardy. That made the fight even harder. Isabella didn't want to show up late, because kids were already making fun of her in class.
"Some kids made fun of her because she had curly black hair, you know, things like that," Mullen said.
Truancies and tardies piled up.
After several warnings from school administrators, Mullen finally received a letter requesting she appear at the district office for a truancy hearing.
"I was scared because I didn't know what to expect. But the school and Marty was very good with helping me and we worked through it," Mullen said.
For Mullen, the hearings became a support system. School officials helped her create a plan to find rides and get Isabella to class on time. What Mullen avoided, was a referral to the county courthouse, which is the whole point of Grand Island's truancy program- to solve the problem before legal action needs to be taken.
"We've brought 194 students into this attendance hearing process here in this room. And out of those 194 students we've only had to make referrals on 13," Deputy Hall County Attorney Martin Klein said.
One of those referrals was RaeJean Mccain and her daughter Melanie.
"She missed a total of one year within two school years," RaeJean said.
At the time, Melanie and her brother Ryan lived with their dad, who she said refused to comply with the district hearing process. The truancy case went to court and legal action was taken against her father.
"We got ahold of the state of Nebraska, they became state wards, and then I actually regained custody and they started going to school all the time," RaeJean said.
A change that made all the difference for RaeJean's family.
"Her self esteem was boosted 150%. She went from not wanting to get out of bed to smiling when she came in from school," RaeJean said.
Melanie said her change in attitude, was because she began to have confidence in her accomplishments.
"It makes me feel amazing that I went this far and went from being a dropout to actually being a success," Melanie said.