Fighting to Stay At School

Document created by nwatts on Nov 11, 2015Last modified by amara.mastronardi@socialedgeconsulting.com on Dec 5, 2016
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  How do people take you seriously when you're only sixteen? This is a problem I faced a lot these past few months. When my mom broke the news that we were moving in with my grandparents who lived in a different state because we couldn't afford to stay where we were at after my sister went to college, my world was shattered. I am a junior in high school, and this was too big of a change for me. There's only two more years until college! I finally got all of my required classes out of the way and was able to take classes that actually interested me. I would lose the possibility of three college credits, scholarships that only apply to my state, and my friends and teachers who I have grown close to over the past years if I moved.

    After breaking  down and feeling like all hope was lost, I decided to talk to one of my close teachers about my situation. I excel in her class (American Sign Language) and this would have been my third year taking ASL. She was very understanding of my situation and encouraged me to talk to my counselor. I was not sure how much my counselor could help me, but I decided to give it my best shot anyways.

    Every step I took in that school was dreadful; I felt as if my time was running out. But my counselor was willing to help in any way she could. Explaining my situation, she told me that I fell under the McKinney-Vento Act because I was considered homeless due to my family's economic hardship and having to move into a family member's house. The McKinney-Vento Act allows children to attend their "school of origin (last school enrolled or the school they attended when they first became homeless) regardless of what district the family resides in". I was enrolled in my school of origin so this act applied to me. She helped me get into contact with the right people to figure out transportation for me, because after all, I only lived 25 miles away. But I later found out that there wasn't the right solution for me.

    The people in charge of transportation offered me three solutions: 1) Drive everyday with your own car and they would reimburse me for gas 2) Take the city bus and they would get me a pass 3) Have a school bus take you everyday. Well the problem with number one was that I didn't have a car or my driver's license. I could get my license and use my mom's car-oh wait I couldn't. She drives a '97 suburban which runs like it's sputtering out its last breaths, and I would have to pay $150 every month for insurance if I were to get my license. What about the second option? Well my school starts at 7:30 in the morning, and I would hop from bus to bus very early and when its dark in the morning. The bus would drop me off in a downtown city, which isn't considered safe, and I would have to walk over a mile to get to my next stop. Eesh. Number three? That could work! Problem was though, the school district denied me from being able to get a bus because they considered it too far and not having the "manpower" to be able to drive me everyday.

    While I was trying to figure this out, my family had already moved out and I was staying at a friend's. Most of what I was trying to solve required me to have a legal guardian on my side, and my mom wanted me to attend the school near my grandparents. But my friend and her mom supported me throughout this entire roller coaster and I could not be more grateful. When I found out that all three options didn't work, I was down in the dumps again. My mom picked me up earlier than what we had discussed, and I was even more devastated. My time with my friends was coming to an end and I was forced to go to a new school.

    People were nice at my new school, but it took me a while to make new friends. I was sitting in the counselor's office alone eating lunch everyday, and in the mornings too. They were an IB school, whereas my last school was AP. They teach different common core and go more in depth than my AP school. I struggled with being behind in class and my grades were dropping. as a waterfall effect. I was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to keep up my 4.0 throughout high school. I needed to get back to my old school, and I was not giving up.

          I continued to talk to my mom about this situation and told her that I was struggling and emotionally stressing out over school. Finally, I convinced her to talk to the transportation people again (because I need a legal guardian on my side to do anything) to figure something out and the last thing to do was to fight the school system. She filled out the paper work, and we waited. She got called in to talk to the school board about my problem.

    They told my mom that they had never heard of a student having such good grades and be willing to self advocate for themselves to try to continue their old school. They said that they had a partnership with the school district that I was attending at currently, and told me both school districts could drive halfway and meet in the middle to pick me up and take me to school.

    Now, all I wait for is to have both schools talk this out and I can be on my way attending my old school. I have learned that even though I may be a minor, and probably seemed like a whiny teenager at times, you have to fight for what you believe in. If you try hard enough, someone will listen. Although this story doesn't have much to do with financial success, this did help me financially because I did my research and realized that I could still attend my school of origin without having to pay money for gas that we didn't have. This experienced helped me mature into an adult and realize how grateful I am for the people that support me. This may be cliche, but it's words to live by: Don't ever give up.  

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