asian kid kept out of public school for two years

Just read this ridiculous story about 14-year-old Jeff Sukkasem, a U.S. citizen and legal resident of Montgomery County, Maryland, who has essentially been barred from enrolling in public school for the past two years: Montgomery Schools Made Teen Wait and Wait and Wait.

Born and raised in California, Jeff moved to Thailand with his family when he was 9, but returned to the United States three years later after struggling in Thai school, unable to read or write in Thai. He took up residence in Montgomery with a family friend, who became his legal guardian.

Basically, Jeff is a the victim of overzealous "gatekeepers" intended to prevent outsiders from taking advantage of the area's superior public schools. It's apparently a significant issue, enough that the school system has developed an elaborate process for catching cheats.

Unfortunately, in this case, it locked out a kid with a legitimate claim to attend public school in Montgomery. School officials assumed that Jeff was just another Asian international student who had come to the U.S. for free schools. To them, it looked like his residency was set up "for the purpose of free school attendance."

They declared him an international student and said he could attend only if he paid nonresident tuition. Jeff could neither afford the $14,000 tuition nor a plane ticket back to Thailand. Jeff has apparently spent the past two years teaching himself, at home and at the public library.

Thankfully, this week, in the face of mounting publicity, the Montgomery school system granted Jeff admission to Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda as a regular student, free of charge. It's a about friggin' time.

Come on, you're thinking what I'm thinking, right? You have to wonder if Jeff would have been stuck in limbo this long if he wasn't Asian. Would they have been so quick to conclude that he was just another Asian kid gaming the system? Two years is a long-ass time to figure that one out.

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