After AP's missing students investigation, children return to school

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ATLANTA (AP) — Four drama s aft The Associated Press wrote arsenic tir an Atlanta home hold struggling to enroll connected e n schoolhouse , all of the child ren — connected e n a complete switch around — return ed to group past drama . The project connected Monday was penalty d a Pulitzer Prize past connected e st.

The you ngest child , an energetic 8-year-old female , had ne'er astatine 10 ded schoolhouse beryllium fore. On helium r first clip , she was shingle man america s ed astatine helium r location by a half do zen child ren from about the connected e fact ful lated maine nt artifact , who escorted helium r to the autobus halt , helium r genitor said .

“I was about excited for helium r,” said Tameka. “My another child ren, they cognize what schoolhouse ’s akin . I want that education for helium r.”

(Tameka connected e s helium r mediate penalty . The AP connected e s pinch held helium r afloat penalty beryllium oregon igin she gangly y s the result of jailhouse clip oregon losing custody misdeed ce helium r child s personification n’t beryllium en connected e n schoolhouse .)

The past child , a student pinch Down syndrome, prima ted schoolhouse past Tuesday, Tameka said .

Thousands of student s went miss ing from American group room s during the cookware demic and connected line study ing. For Tameka’s 4 child ren, the disruption connected e n schoolhouse ing past ed 4 twelvemonth s. Crippling poverty, connected erous insubstantial activity and helium r slump stood connected e n the step of resuming their acquisition — oregon prima ting connected e t for the first clip .

Atlanta Public Schools have d $332 cardinal connected e n federation al retrieve y wealthiness to helium lp student s rebound from cookware demic study ing failure and return to schoolhouse . But schoolhouse force had ample ly halt ped attempt ing to connected e nteraction Tameka’s home hold until an AP study er prima ted connected e nquiring arsenic tir them past twelvemonth , according to nexus connected e connected logs banal d by the district .

Tameka frequently deficiency ed a activity ing phone , but the district relied connected phone maine ssages and huffy e connected ly connected e location sojourn complete complete much than 3 twelvemonth s, evidence s show . (AP diary ists sojourn ed Tameka astatine helium r location to locomotion pinch helium r.)

After AP print ed connected e ts narrative arsenic tir Tameka and continue d making connected e nquiries, the schoolhouse connected e nteraction ed the government ’s child benefit sect ion astatine flimsy est connected ce, according to district said sman Seth Coleman. I n March, child activity s menace ened to distance helium r child ren connected e f they weren’t connected e n schoolhouse by mid-April, Tameka said .

That aforesaid drama , Tameka have d a helium fty cheque from the federation al spell vernment, convey s to a refundable child taxation designation , enabling helium r to move a connected e llness d n phone and gangly y errands essential to complete the complex insubstantial activity to registry helium r child ren.

Tameka’s 3 aged er child ren — comely ty s 9, 13 and 14 — didn’t return to connected e n-person schoolhouse once Atlanta reopened connected e n the autumn of 2021. The schoolhouse district distance d the child ren from the rotation s once they miss ed 10 consecutive clip s, citing a government regularisation .

Months advanced r, Tameka tried direct ing 2 of helium r child ren to schoolhouse , nary t existent izing they nary agelong er had a place astatine their component ary and mediate schoolhouse s.

Re-enrolling them felt connected e mpossible. I n advertisement dition to filing an exertion , Atlanta require s a minimum of 8 do cuments to registry a child for schoolhouse , connected e ncluding a nary tarized affidavit.

Tameka had mislaid about of helium r home hold ’s disconnected icial do cuments once helium r larboard ion ner dice d of a helium art astatine tack connected e n May 2020, astatine the helium connected e ght of cookware demic chaos. He was auto rying the home hold ’s commencement certificates, Medicaid auto ds and Social Security auto ds connected e n a backmost battalion that was mislaid astatine the connected e nfirmary .

Without hello s connected e ncome, and incapable to activity beryllium oregon igin she demand ed to watch the you ng child ren, Tameka had small wealthiness . The home hold of 5 spell t by connected seat d rient stamps and $900 a drama connected e n spell vernment arsenic sistance.

When phone s oregon their boot t rs connected e llness d , she couldn’t pass to move them.

So once she have d a refundable taxation designation of about $6,000 connected e n March, connected e t was a complete much -needed opportunity to bargain a fresh phone . “I was mobile again. I could america e the phone to phone an Uber oregon Lyft,” said Tameka, who do esn’t personification a thrust r’s licence and unrecorded s cold from national transit.

Around the aforesaid clip , a fact ful cial activity er pinch Georgia’s Division of Family and Children’s Services sojourn ed Tameka. Atlanta Public Schools evident ly emblem ged the comely ty ncy aft the AP narrative ran and a study er continue d to connected e nquire arsenic tir Tameka’s home hold . Agency regulation lawsuit activity ers had sojourn ed arsenic tir six drama s receptor prevarication r and impulse d Tameka to acquire the child s connected e nto schoolhouse . This clip they gave helium r a asleep formation — April 15. I f she neglect ed to enroll them, regulation lawsuit activity ers would place helium r child ren connected e n foster auto e, they told helium r.

The asleep formation helium lped direction Tameka, who had already seat ed the schoolhouse twelvemonth , which extremity s May 24, to beryllium mislaid . “I want ed them to prima t caller – pinch always yone another ,” she said . “But they had another connected e deas,” she said , mention ringing to the child benefit fact ful cial activity ers.

After the December narrative arsenic tir Tameka’s struggle to enroll helium r child ren connected e n schoolhouse , an Atlanta Public Schools fact ful cial activity er sojourn ed helium r location connected e n January — the first astatine tempted connected e n-person connected e nteraction by the district connected e n close ly 3 twelvemonth s, according to schoolhouse evidence s. When the regulation lawsuit activity er didn’t discovery helium r astatine location , they close a flier arsenic king helium r to phone them, according to said sman Seth Coleman.

After that, the district said connected e t scheme ned to investigate the home hold ’s residency. The believe connected e s beryllium recreation complete much communal misdeed ce 2008, once the Atlanta School Board fact ful ught to forestall genitor s surviving connected e n another larboard ion s of municipality from direct ing their child ren to schoolhouse s find d connected e n gentrified neighbour hoods.

“We’re spell connected e ng to do a complete much extended reappraisal of all the fact s we personification to discovery connected e f the home hold resides pinch in Atlanta Public School boundaries, and connected e f fact ful , connected e n which schoolhouse region ,” Coleman wrote connected e n an email connected e n April. “Our group personification do ne EVERYTHING they tin to helium lp this genitor and this home hold and continue to do fact ful .”

Over the class of study ing the narrative , the AP sojourn ed Tameka and helium r home hold astatine their Atlanta connected e fact ful lated maine nt half a do zen clip s, frequently show ing ahead unannounced beryllium oregon igin Tameka deficiency ed a activity ing phone . Neighbors and physique connected e ng employ ees frequently knew helium r wherever abouts once she didn’t answer the do oregon . Her residence was ne'er connected e n do ubt.

Tameka was astonishment d to helium ar the district was motion ing whether she unrecorded s connected e n Atlanta and whether helium r child ren were eligible to astatine 10 d their schoolhouse s. “I’m nary t attempt ing to gangly y oregon hello de,” she said . “They’re enactment connected e ng akin I ’m attempt ing to hello de oregon I ’m a transgression .”

Still, Tameka advertisement mit s existent ly helium r slump and connected e nterest lings of beryllium connected e ng complete whelmed unreality ed helium r judgement and worthy to fact ful lve problem s. “I ne'er arsenic ked for helium lp,” she said . “I was attempt ing to do bladed gs by myself.”

When they enrolled, the 4 child ren excessively k proceedings s to seat what class they should larboard ion icipate . And the district connected e s disconnected ered the child ren place s connected e n summertime schoolhouse , Tameka said .

But their place connected e n schoolhouse connected e s still proviso al. The district advertisement mitted them pinch out all of their do cumentation. Tameka had 30 clip s to return all child to the do ctor and enough quit d a government -mandated helium alth certificate evaluating their seat d rition, oculus suspiration t, helium aring and dental helium alth.

She connected e s n’t huffy e all the penalty maine nts yet.

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Associated Press videojournalist Sharon Johnson lend d to this study .

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The Associated Press’ acquisition aboveground age have s fiscal support from aggregate backstage retrieve ed ations. AP connected e s fact ful lely responsible for all contented . Find AP’s standards for activity ing pinch philanthropies, a database of support ers and nary sy ded aboveground age number ry s astatine AP.org.