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PACER Stories


One morning, a youth named Abdi called PACER, upset and in tears. The high school senior had just been expelled from school and did not know what to do. His highest priority was to graduate with his peers, yet it all seemed in jeopardy. Eighteen, homeless, and with no family, he knew no one who could help him.

The PACER advocate learned that Abdi had been going through a special education evaluation when a security guard informed him that he was not welcome at that school anymore. Even though the special education teacher explained that she had asked Abdi to come in for the evaluation, the guard forcibly ejected him from the school.

The PACER advocate assessed the situation and realized that three things needed to happen: The question of whether Abdi had a disability needed to be resolved, an administrative error underestimating Abdi’s credits had to be corrected, and Abdi needed to be transferred to a school where he could successfully complete his secondary education. After making many phone calls and attending dispute resolution meetings on Abdi’s behalf, PACER’s advocate succeeded on all counts.

Abdi, the PACER advocate, school personnel, the school psychologist, and the district special education coordinator agreed that although Abdi probably would qualify for special education if he took some additional tests, they would forgo them because the school year was nearly over. That question about missing credits? It was resolved when administrators found they had made an error. Everyone also agreed that a placement in another school might be best for Abdi. Although he was apprehensive, Abdi understood that the move would benefit him and he accepted an administrative transfer to another location.

The PACER advocate assisted him in his transition to the new school. Abdi was so happy, he could not stop thanking his advocate and PACER.

Abdi continued to call his advocate to seek advice. One day he called nervously to ask a personal question. Since he had no family, would the advocate go with him to graduation? On that important day, the PACER advocate and Abdi’s special education teacher were there to see him walk across the stage in cap and gown and receive his hard-earned diploma.

“Despite so much hardship in his life, this young man showed amazing resilience and perseverance,” says his PACER advocate. “Where others might choose easier paths or even give up, Abdi surmounted obstacle after obstacle to graduate from high school and set himself on a path to a bright future.”

Only three months after that initial tearful call from the youth, the advocate received a June 18 text message that showed just how far things had come. It was from Abdi, wishing him a happy Father’s Day.