TALTY, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) – Teachers in one North Texas school district are being praised for sending police to the home of two very young students Monday after they’d missed class and their parent, 71-year-old Connie Taylor, couldn’t be reached. Officers arrived to find their mother dead and the 5 and 7-year-old boys fending for themselves.

Teachers in the Forney Independent School District called police reporting that the children hadn’t been in class since September 21.

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When officers went to their home, in the small town of Talty, both the boys opened the door and told them that ‘their mom had passed out’ and was laying on the floor.

According to Talty Police Chief Bill Carmack, the kids had tried to use a cell phone to call for help, but didn’t have the password to unlock it.

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The boys said they didn’t know their neighbors and were scared to go outside, so they just stayed in the house and fended for themselves. They survived by eating food from the pantry and the refrigerator and officers said they appeared healthy when they were found.

The Forney ISD issued a statement that said, in part —

“We are so thankful that our teachers are building relationships with families to know something wasn’t right, and for our officers that check in our families. Our hearts break with the family, and we are keeping them close in our thoughts and prayers.”

Police said Taylor died of natural causes. The kids were foster children, but Taylor had recently finalized the adoption process and had full custody of both the boys.

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The children are now back in the care of Children Protection Services, but one of Taylor’s adult children is working with them on custody.