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Petersburg mom frustrated with school’s homebound program

PETERSBURG, Va. -- Thinking of the dilemma her fifteen year old son is in, brings tears to Cheryl White’s eyes. The Petersburg mom says an emergency spinal surgery put Brandon out of school before the year even started at Petersburg High School.

White says she worked out details with the school system about his recovery and participation in their "Homebound" program. Teachers who work in that program visit students at home and go over various subjects to keep students on track.

White says it has been frustrating from the start.

“They told me in the beginning that he would get 10 hours of instruction and it has not happened since the day he started school. When we started, some of the homebound kids didn`t even have a Chromebook. It took Brandon until November to get a Chromebook,” White claimed.

She says instead of 10 hours, Brandon gets about six hours per week with one teacher. She says she believes that teacher is doing her best to juggle several homebound students.

“That’s the problem with the teacher she has. She has so many students to get to. She`s running left, right, up, down and every which way. it`s not fair to her at all,” White explained.

The Problem Solvers contacted Petersburg Public Schools. With Ms. White’s permission, leaders there spoke about her son’s case with CBS 6 News. Officials explained that they have a teacher shortage but have gone above and beyond to work with the family. That includes incorporating seven other teachers into Brandon’s homebound schedule.

Things didn’t work out, school leaders say, partly because they say the mom was not flexible and was unwilling to work with some of the teachers. That is something Ms. White disputes. She says some of the teachers assigned to her son could never stay on a consistent schedule. That, she says made it tough for her to get Brandon to rehab and tend to the daily schedule of four other children in her home.

White worries her son is in jeopardy of failing 9th grade. She just wants Brandon to get the hours promised by the school system.

“I have to let my emotions out, but I`m going to keep fighting. I’m never going to give up until he graduates and goes to college” White said.

Officials with Petersburg Public Schools met with Ms. White on Thursday. They added another teacher to cover the rest of Brandon’s instruction time. Though both sides differ about why he missed out on hours in the past, they do agree they all have his best interest at heart.

A school spokesperson said there have been some weeks when the 9th grader received all 10 hours of instruction. Officials say they strive to do what is right for each student and work with families to achieve that goal.