School board trustee candidate Lohit Datta-Barua has been out campaigning all over Humble ISD. “Walking the streets has been an eye-opener. I have definitely seen both sides of the coin. We have homes with grand courtyards as well as homes falling down around this district,” Datta-Barua said.
Datta-Barua had an unexpected encounter on one of those days. While most of his knocks on doors remained unanswered because people were away from their homes during the day, one door was opened by a young woman. When Datta-Barua explained that he was running for the Humble ISD school board, the young woman explained that she did not much like Humble ISD because of a previous experience in her life.
She told Datta-Barua that when she was 16, she became pregnant and was very sick during her first trimester – so sick that she could not attend classes. She eventually dropped out of school and had her baby. “I wanted to go back to school,” the young woman said, but when she tried repeatedly to return to school, she was told by various district personnel that she had set a bad precedent and was a high drop-out risk. She was also told that she was too old and would serve as a bad influence on other younger students.
Datta-Barua is a firm believer that one cannot achieve anything in life without education and also believes that everyone deserves a second chance. “Who among us hasn’t ever made a mistake?” Datta-Barua asked. He was so concerned about this young woman that he called the current principal of Humble High, the school previously attended by the young woman. Donna Ulrich is the current principal and was not at Humble High at the time the girl dropped out. Ulrich met with Datta-Barua, reviewed the young woman’s records, and the three of them had a meeting. Because the young woman is now 21 years old, she will “age out” and cannot complete the high school credits by age 22 in accordance with Humble ISD policy. However, Ulrich worked with her to enroll in a GED preparation program at Lone Star College. The young woman is now working on obtaining her GED and then plans to enroll in a two-year program to become a nurse. Ulrich and Datta-Barua encouraged her to then work and save money to do the final two years of study to become a registered nurse.
Datta-Barua has checked in with her periodically to push her to keep up the good work. “I tell her that it will be hard because she has a husband and a baby, and that she will have to work hard and learn. But I tell her to stick with it and finish.” The young woman has changed her mind about Humble ISD: “I wish more people like you (Datta-Barua) cared about people like us.”
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