Hannah Sanders said suspensions were an every-week thing for her when she was at Kearny High School.
As a freshman, Sanders’ mom left an abusive relationship with her dad, but that meant home was a hotel – a secret her mom warned Sanders to keep from the principal and teachers. Sanders kept quiet. She didn’t trust her teachers or principal, anyway.
She internalized problems. She stopped doing school work, started arguing with teachers and missing school.
“I had a problem with authority,” she said. “I just felt like I was being misunderstood. Teachers knew who I was and they expected me to be bad. So I gave them what they expected. I was building relationships in the worst way.”
By her junior year, transcripts show, Sanders had failed 14 classes and was a year behind in the work she needed to graduate. To avoid the embarrassment of watching her peers graduate and sail on to college while she stayed behind in high school, she left school.
At a friend’s suggestion, Sanders wound up at Diego Hills, a charter school in Rolando Park that offers credit-recovery courses and an independent study program, which allows students to work at their own pace.