Time and attendance tracking is a mainstay of business and secondary education. But everyone knows that watching the clock is the worst way to measure results. One student paid a serious price when shooting for perfect attendance.
The story of this pupil has been in the headlines. Robby Slaughter’s guest post on the topic appeared on the CultureRx blog. Unfortunately, that post has since been taken down, but we saved the following excerpt from it:
It’s a cliché but it’s still correct: children are our future. So it’s especially telling that an 18-year old student from Indiana, Elizabeth Olivas, may be denied the chance to become a productive member of our society.
This is especially tragic because Olivas is a striking example of the American experience. Although she was born in Mexico, she was brought the United States at the age of 4. Since then she has excelled in virtually every regard. She is an accomplished student and athlete. In fact, she has a 3.9672 and is the salutatorian of her high school.
Except, it looks like won’t be able to give the speech at graduation. In fact, she’s already missed weeks of activities at the end of the school year. That’s because she’s stuck in Mexico and has been refused re-entry to the United States.
Ultimately, the mixup was sorted out, and Olivas was able to get back into the United States in time for her graduation. A CNN article detailed what went wrong and how the mistakes were rectified.
Her attorney, Sarah Moshe, had said the U.S. State Department approved a waiver, allowing Olivas to return home and deliver the salutatorian speech at Frankfort High School on Saturday.
An undocumented immigrant who was brought to the United States by her parents when she was 4, Olivas traveled to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, last month to beat a deadline to apply for a visa.
According to immigration laws, children of immigrant parents have until 180 days from their 18th birthday to leave the United States for their country of origin and apply for a visa. The consulate in Mexico granted Olivas an appointment for May 4.
Moshe calculated on two different legal calendars that the 180th day would fall on April 17, so Olivas departed for Mexico that day. But at her May 4 appointment, Olivas was told she had left the United States on the 181st day.
The calendars Moshe used did not account for the leap year.
The mix-up could have meant Olivas would be banned from the United States for three years, living with her grandparents in Juarez until she could apply again.
Steve Edwards, principal at Frankfort High School, called Olivas a “phenomenal kid.”
“She is a mentor to those younger than her,” Edwards said. “There is just not a bad thing to say about Elizabeth. She’s an awesome girl.”
This isn’t the first time that a mistake has nearly had a terrible result for someone who didn’t make it. Usually forgetting about a leap year isn’t a big deal. It’s typically just a cause of a little bit of confusion when it comes to figuring out when March begins. But in this situation, Olivas was nearly banned from returning to her Indiana home for three whole years. That’s enough time for a star student to have nearly finished her degree at an American university.
The moral of the story? Always be on the look out for where errors may occur. Don’t assume that something small can’t have a big impact. If you’re proactive about preventing errors in your workflow, then they’re much less likely to occur.