Nakamoto report gets kids re-enrolled; Livingston school changes story
WALKER- Less than a day after a WBRZ Investigative Unit report, the Livingston Parish School system has done a complete about-face and will allow kids that were initially refused into school to re-enroll at Walker Elementary.
Nathan Anderson, 10, and his brother Jaiden Anderson, 7, were kicked out of school around Thanksgiving over failing to prove their residency, according to multiple sources. Monday, the Livingston Parish School system confirmed those allegations with a statement saying the children's father was living in Iberville Parish. Tuesday, the school system said the father dropped the kids from Walker Elementary and planned to home-school them.
How the father could ever home-school the two boys is a mystery. The family was destitute and living in conditions where neighbors were providing meals for them.
Neighbor Jessica Michel took custody of the boys after their father was arrested in January. The children's mother is not in the picture.
Michel tried to get the boys placed back into school in January but said her attempts to do so were refused by staff at Walker Elementary and their principal Bonnie Cox.
"I think it's ridiculous," Michel said. "There was no call for it. I walked in, told the lady, in the beginning, this is what's going on... father's in jail. I have custody and want the kids in school. The first words I got was, 'Nope. We won't accept anything unless it was from OCS or the judge.'"
With Michel tired of fighting the establishment, she told her story to the WBRZ Investigative Unit, and hearts poured out to her. Dozens of people offered resources to help pay the attorney fees to get the kids back in school and other attorneys reached out offering services for free.
"I truly appreciate and love everyone's support," Michel said. "I didn't realize it would get this much attention."
Early Tuesday morning, an employee with the central office at Livingston Parish Schools reached out to Michel.
"She told me to bring their shot records and birth certificates and social security cards," Michel said.
The boys get to start school Wednesday morning.
"I told her I was highly concerned that they've missed this much school already," Michel said. "They are going to be far behind. Will there be a way to work with them to catch them up by the end of the year? She said the teachers would work to get them up to par."
Michel said she's grateful to have a community standing behind the boys she took in.
"God bless and thank you all for your support," she said.
Tuesday afternoon, the Livingston Parish School Superintendent Joe Murphy released this updated statement and will no longer require a judge's signature to get the boys back in school:
"The Livingston Parish Public School System is currently working with authorities and involved parties to enroll two minor children into Walker Elementary under the federal McKinney-Vento Act after learning the father is incarcerated. This federal act provides for the enrollment of students who are deemed homeless.
The father, Patrick Anderson, had dropped the students from Walker Elementary on December 6, 2019, declaring he was going to provide home schooling for them.
School and district officials are working with a local resident who holds temporary custody for the students to enroll them in Walker Elementary. School and district officials have also contacted the Louisiana Department of Children & Family Services to investigate the matter."