Teen Misses Exam Because She's Homeless; State Does The Right Thing And Arranges For College

Filed under: In The News

Rosa Bracero and her mother, Rosario, in Brooklyn. Credit: Anthony DelMundo, New York Daily News

A high school senior was unable to take the last exam she needed to graduate -- because she was homeless.

However, ParentDish has learned that the 17-year-old will be able to start college next month, although she will still have to take the exam in June to get her high school Regents diploma.

The Bracero family was evicted from their home last week and went to an intake center to try and find a place to stay, according to a report in the New York Daily News. Rosa Bracero, 17, told the center's staff she had to go take her English Regents exam, a standardized test administered in a few states, in order to graduate from Brooklyn's High School for Civil Rights. She was informed that if she left, her family would be denied shelter. So Rosa stayed, missing the exam.

"Given that the State does not allow make-up Regents exams, we will continue to work with this student so that she can take the exam and go to college," wrote Danny Kanner, spokesperson for the New York City Department of Education, in an email to ParentDish on Friday.

Hopping on the helpful bandwagon, Jonathan Burman of the New York State Education Department sent ParentDish a statement as well.

"Working together with the high school's principal, the City's central administration, and Lincoln Technical Institute, we achieved a favorable solution: Lincoln Tech, the college Rosa wants to attend, has accepted her and will permit her to begin taking classes on February 16th," wrote Burman. "She will be able to take the Regents exam in June and will graduate at that time."

Burman added: "Unlike most states, we offer these exams three times a year so that students have multiple opportunities to take and pass them. Because of the need for security, the exams can be given only at the times they are scheduled."

So Rosa will still have to wait for the Regents exam and her high school diploma, but she will be able to start college in the meantime.

It also seems that Rosa's unfortunate circumstances may lead to some changes at the New York City Department of Homeless Services. ParentDish received the following statement via email from Department spokesperson Heather Janik.

"The Department of Homeless Services is revamping our policy so that once a family presents at the intake center, a student may be excused from the shelter application process for important exams that do not offer make-up sessions, like Regents or some college preparatory exams, while their family continues to be processed, " wrote Janik. "The incident of a student missing the Regents Exam was unfortunate and unusual, but these steps will ensure that no child faces a similar situation again."

Although the circumstances of Rosa Bracero's case are unusual, the New York State Board of Regents' strict policy on only allowing students to take exams on specific dates has come up in the past. In 2009, snow-related school closings forced the cancellation of many students' Regents exams, and make up tests were not offered.

The same thing occurred in 2004; in that case, students whose schools were closed were offered the option of substituting a passing grade for the test, or waiting until June, according to The New York Times. The catch -- if students chose not to take the exam in June, they would receive a local diploma rather than the more prestigious Regents diploma.

The Braceros have been homeless in the past but managed to get back on their feet. Rosario Bracero, Rosa's mother, lost her job in April of last year, causing her to fall behind on the rent while living on a temp worker's salary. The Bracero family includes Rosa, her brother, a sister-in-law and two baby nieces, according to the Daily News.

Story updated February 5, 4:50pm

Related: Homeless Blogger Lands Internship at Elle Magazine

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