Rosa Bracero, a homeless high school student, was prevented from taking her graduation exams by New York City and State bureaucrats.
Yesterday's New York Daily News featured a remarkable article by reporter Meredith Kolodner, telling the story of Rosa Bracero, a New York City high school student preparing to take the New York State Board of Regents exams so that she could graduate early. The only problem: Rosa and her family just became homeless.
"Rosa Bracero couldn't take the English Regents exam last week because her family had been evicted the same day, and staff at a homeless intake center said they'd be denied shelter if the teen left.
"'I'm homeless so I have to be set back in my goals for my life?' asked Rosa, 17. 'Isn't it enough that I'm homeless?'
"Rosa, a student at Brooklyn's High School for Civil Rights, told staffers at the city's central family intake center she needed to take the 1:15 p.m. exam to earn her diploma.
"The workers told her the entire family - her mother, brother, sister-in-law and two baby nieces - had to be on hand for the seven-hour process."
Making a bad situation even worse, the Board of Regents refused to accept the postponed tests Rosa took just a few days later -- meaning that Rosa will not be able to take her final exams until June.
According to the Daily News, Rosa's mother is another of the hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers hit hard by the economic recession and the expensive housing market:
"The testing debacle compounds an already difficult situation for Rosa and her family. Her mom lost her job as an administrative assistant last April and has been working as a temp ever since, causing the family to fall three months behind on rent."
Here at Coalition for the Homeless, we've heard stories a lot like Rosa's for years. The NYC Department of Homeless Services' grueling application process at its Bronx intake center for homeless families regularly forces homeless kids to miss school and parents to miss work. And the application process continues to be plagued by widespread bureaucratic errors, which require homeless families in crisis to re-apply multiple times before receiving stable emergency shelter.
Today, according to the Daily News, local elected officials spoke out about the bureaucrats' cold-hearted treatment of Rosa and her family:
"'The state should score the test Rosa already took, and DHS should admit its mistake and reexamine its shelter admission policies to make them more humane and flexible,' said Public Advocate Bill de Blasio....
"'That a child misses her Regents because her whole family is getting evicted,' said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, 'is admitting that we treat homeless students as a second tier population.'"
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