About Jerome's Education Journey
Watch Jerome's story told by Duke Professor Jane Wettach starting from 27:17
In Jane Wettach’s work as the director of the Children’s Law Clinic, Wettach met a seventh-grade boy who had been suspended a number of times and after trying to be successful in an alternative learning school was facing suspensions from December to the end of the school year. The young boy was facing suspension because he had spoken in a threatening way and looked like he was about to strike another student. He did not strike the other student because a teacher intervened.
After learning more about Jerome, Wettach discovered he was homeless living in a motel room with his mother and two sisters, one of which was a baby. A cab provided by the school district picked him up for school every day and returned him after school. He was not allowed to leave the motel room because there was no safe place to play.
“It was completely predictable that when he was at school, he was going to have a lot of energy and a lot of negative energy,” Wettach said. “He was mad. He was angry. He is 12. He doesn’t completely understand why he is living in a hotel. He doesn’t know how to interact. So he misbehaved and he misbehaved a lot.”
The school administrators felt justified. They felt that they had used the tools that they had. They had talked to him, his mother and the administrators had followed everything that was in their policies. They simply felt that they had no other options. Jerome lost the hearing, the appeal to the Superintendent and he was suspended.
I was incredulous,” Wettach said. “I couldn’t believe that this is what they do to 12-year-old homeless boys.”
While the district offered Jerome online education, it is unknown what happened to the family.