The moment of truth for Ivan and Olga Rojas came in 2008, when their son Esteban finished his sophomore year at the Blackstone Academy Charter School in Pawtucket and told his parents he wanted to transfer to Central Falls High School. The thought alarmed them. The high school had been under-performing for years, and Esteban’s mother feared there were gangs and drugs at the school.
For Blanca Giraldo the reckoning came in February 2009, when Central Falls High School Principal Elizabeth Legault sent a letter asking her to come to the school. Legault told Giraldo that her daughter Valerie Florez was failing: she was frequently late, skipping class and not doing her work.
For Jackie Wilson, a random act of violence forced her to uproot her daughter Sakira during her junior year at Central Falls High.