Homeless Teen Graduates High School Despite Obstacles in Place by City

Back in February, we shared the story of Rosa Bracero, a homeless teen who was forced to miss her English Regent’s exam because her family was applying for shelter after being evicted from their home. The Department of Homeless Services’ inflexible policies did not allow any member of the family to leave during the all-day application process. As a result, Rosa missed her exam, which was necessary in order for her to graduate high school. She tried to make up the test a few days later, but the State refused to grade it, since it had not been taken on the scheduled day.

Rosa’s situation –unable to graduate because she was homeless– sparked city-wide outrage and the Coalition launched a campaign to change the City’s misguided policies. Over 800 outraged New Yorkers sent letters to Mayor Bloomberg urging that he change this unfair policy. As a result of Rosa’s unfortunate experience, the City and State came together to make changes to these harmful rules. Children will now be allowed to leave the shelter application process for statewide exams. Although many reforms are still needed, this marks a step forward in the fight to treat homeless children with the dignity and respect they deserve, and to allow them the same opportunities afforded every other child in New York City.

Today, we heard about Rosa Bracero again and this time the news was good. She passed her English Regents exam and is on schedule to get her diploma next week. In the meantime, she has been taking classes at Lincoln Technical Institute, she has applied to several after-school jobs, and is looking forward to becoming an automotive technician.

On behalf of the Coalition for the Homeless, we would like to congratulate Rosa for her hard work and wish her luck in her future endeavors! And to everyone who supported Rosa by sending a letter to the Mayor — Thank you for your great advocacy efforts! Together we can work to change ineffective homeless policies for the better and give all homeless children the opportunities they deserve!

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