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N.Y. Group Mobilizes To Help Girl Prevented From Graduating By Homelessness

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New York City bureaucrats won't let Rosa Bracero graduate from high school because her family is homeless.

The Daily News reported Thursday that Bracero missed her Regents exam two weeks ago because her family was being evicted that day and the city's intake center requires every family member to show up to apply for shelter. Bracero took a makeup exam, but the state won't validate the results.

Now, after the Daily News reported on Bracero's plight, the Coalition for the Homeless in New York City has launched a campaign to force the city to allow Bracero to graduate, blasting an email to its list of more than 17,000 people.

"We understand that rules are in place to prevent kids from cheating, but these are extraordinary circumstances," said coalition director Mary Brosnahan in an interview with the Huffington Post. Bracero's situation "sheds light on the human drama that goes on behind the numbers."

Homelessness "takes a terrible toll on the kids' lives," Brosnahan said.

The Coalition wants people to send letters to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg demanding that the city's Department of Homeless Services change its policies so kids don't miss school when families apply for shelter.

"Rosa isn't alone," says the letter to the mayor. "Hers is just one story in a city of 16,000 homeless children. Every day, DHS's policies force kids to miss school -- including critical tests -- to be present for hours and hours of applying for shelter. Their parents often have to miss work, too."

Elected officials in New York were sympathetic. "That a child misses her Regents because her whole family is getting evicted...is admitting that we treat homeless students as a second tier population," said Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, according to the Daily News.

Here's the text of the Coalition's letter to supporters:

Rosa Bracero is a 17 year-old high school senior at Brooklyn's High School for Civil Rights. As the Daily News reported, she finished all of her credits to graduate last week -- a semester early -- and was on track to attend Lincoln Technical Institute until her family's homeless shelter application process forced her to miss her English Regents exam last week. Now Rosa might not get her diploma.

Rosa's story brings home the challenges facing New York City's more than 16,000 homeless children every day.

New York City's Department of Homeless Services' inflexible rules force kids to miss school -- including critical tests -- to be present for hours and hours of applying for shelter. Their parents often have to miss work, too. Being homeless is hard enough on a child. The city's homeless services should ease their burdens, not add to them.

Plus, while Rosa's school let her make up the test last Friday, the state has invalidated the results. The Board of Regents rigidly refusing to allow Rosa to graduate isn't blocking cheating. It's stubbornly refusing to help a student in need.

Please take a minute to read Rosa's story. Then click here to send a message to Mayor Bloomberg to ask him to allow Rosa to graduate -- and to change DHS's stubborn intake policy so that other students like her never have to miss a single day of school. None of New York City's children should have to choose between their education and a roof over their heads.

Click here for the Daily News story.

Around the Web

SF Gate: Chronicle Homeless Special

National Coalition for the Homeless

Factsheets - National Coalition for the Homeless

National Alliance to End Homelessness