WASHINGTON -- A homeless student at Ballou Stay High School who was denied a chance to play in front of college recruiters over “lingering residency concerns” has now been granted to play with the team.
D.C. Public Schools first denied Jamal Speaks the right to play football back in August. He and his godmother appealed to the State Athletic Association and after his paperwork checked out he was cleared to play.
DC Public Schools announced on Wednesday that Speaks would now be allowed to play.
On Saturday, just as the 18-year-old was about to step on the field to play in the Southeast Cup in front of a college recruiter from Temple University, Ballou’s principal pulled him from the game.
A spokesperson from D.C. public schools said the principal wasn’t directed to do so but was “advised of the residency concerns.”
“Someone is discriminating against him,” said Nia Young. “It can’t be residency because he’s been enrolled since last school year.”
Young questioned the D.C. public school system. She wants to why Speaks can’t play football due to residency concerns, but can be in a classroom
A spokesperson couldn't answer and simply replied by saying “it is unclear if there is an active investigation.”
The school system has been dogged by controversy surrounding residency issues after a report revealed Maryland students were cheating the system and D.C. taxpayers by attending Duke Ellington School of the Arts without paying the required tuition.
Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White is now offering to help the Speaks find permanent housing. White is also appealing to the school system after confirming Speaks has proved residency.
“This young man has been through enough,” White said. “We need to make sure he graduates and assist him in securing a college scholarship.”