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Texas mom says she was issued an arrest warrant for her kids' overdue library books

Kaylee Morgan, a mother of five children, said she took books out from the Navasota Public Library for her homeschooled children.
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A Texas stay-at-home mom said she was trying to renew her driver's license when she learned there was a warrant for her arrest stemming from overdue library books.

"I was so angry. I was sad and mad," Kaylee Morgan told NBC News in a phone call Wednesday. "The whole week leading up to court I couldn’t decide if I wanted to laugh or cry."

Morgan, a mother of five children, said she took five or six books out from the Navasota Public Library in Navasota, about 115 miles east of Austin, last March for her homeschooled children.

Kaylee Morgan.
Kaylee Morgan.Courtesy Kaylee Morgan

At the time, Morgan said she was pregnant and experiencing hyperemesis, extreme morning sickness, and placenta previa, when the placenta covers the opening in the cervix. It can cause bleeding around the start of the second half of pregnancy and mild cramping or contractions, according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Morgan said the books were between a few weeks to a month late when her husband dropped them off, except for one that did not fit in the library's drop box. Her stepson later dropped the book off inside the library, she said.

NBC affiliate KPRC of Houston obtained a copy of the overdue notice from the library that showed Morgan had two books due on March 31, 2023. The notice, dated April 10, 2023, said she owed a fee of $1.

A week later, the library sent what it said was a second and final notice. It said Morgan had 10 days to return the books and pay a new $2 fine or the matter would be turned over to the court.

Navasota Public Library.
Navasota Public Library.Google Maps

A city ordinance states that failure to return books or library items within 30 days from the due date results in their library card being suspended. If a person fails to respond to the letter of complaint within 10 days of receiving it, it is considered a misdemeanor criminal offense punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Morgan said she did not receive the library's late notices because they were sent to an old address. The library never called her about the late books, she said.

It wasn't until she went to renew her driver's license last month that she was told she had a warrant for a nearly $570 ticket.

The Navasota Public Library referred NBC News to city attorney Cary Bovey. Bovey could not be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Morgan, who said her family cannot afford to pay the ticket, said the entire ordeal has been stressful and questioned why the punishment for overdue library books was so strict.

"I offered to pay for the books. I offered to pay for the late fees but I cannot pay $600," she said. "I understand that we have deadlines for a reason and all of those things, but there has to be a better way to cultivate community engagement, instead of tearing the community apart."

"You could come in and read books to the kids for community service, you could help build the little free library or bring in canned goods," she said. "Any number of things could be done."