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Officials are not buying Rosa Bracero's reason for missing Regents exam - she was homeless

Keith Olbermann used this story in his "Worst Persons" segment to blast the New York Regents muckity mucks.

By Meredith Kolodner

Cold-hearted officials aren't buying a Brooklyn high school senior's excuse for missing her final exam before graduation -- homelessness.

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.

Rosa's mother, Rosario, was stunned.

"I told them she needed to take this test to graduate," her mother said. "I couldn't believe what I was hearing."

Because the family had nowhere to go, Rosa missed her exam. While her school allowed her to take the test Friday, the state invalidated the results because regulations forbid makeup Regents exams to discourage cheating.

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.

Rosa's family had been homeless more than a decade ago, leading to her being bounced between shelters and four elementary schools before getting accepted into a gifted and talented program in Manhattan.

To help ease her family's economic problems, Rosa worked hard to finish all of her credits in 3-1/2 years, and had been on track to graduate this week.

She was even accepted into Lincoln Technical Institute and aced the entrance exam, scoring a 490 out of a possible 500 on the English assessment. But she still has no high school diploma.

"I'm tired of being without a home," said the aspiring automobile technician. "I love learning ... but I want to further my education so I can get a job. I want to help take care of my family."

A spokeswoman for the Homeless Services Department said staff followed protocol. "It is necessary for [the department] to have the entire family present for evaluation when applying for shelter to make a full assessment and offer services for each family member's needs," said Heather Janik.

A state Education Department spokesman said Rosa can take the exam in June.

— Meredith Kolodner
New York Daily News





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