Unwanted vacation: US teen refused schooling

Many teenagers might dream of a break from school, but one boy's two-year break is turning into a nightmare.

A fourteen-year-old American is being refused free public education in the state of Maryland. He is considered an international student trying to take advantage of the system.

The boy's attorney, however, says he has the right to be schooled for free.

For two years, Jeff Sukkasem has been teaching himself in the local library. Although for many of his peers it may sound like an endless vacation, it is a lonely life for the 14 year-old.

“It was okay the first few weeks or months, but then I got bored, I started to miss my friends… I have trouble sleeping sometimes,” Jeff says.

His case is unique since Jeff is both a US citizen and a resident, yet the schools won’t let him in.

Jeff not only comes to the library to study, it is also his place for an escape. Every day he deals with questions from people who just don’t understand why he isn’t in school like all his peers.

Pat Hoover is the attorney working for free to help his client get back to school:

“Children under the age of 16 in our state must, by statute, attend school. This child, under the age of 16 – who just turned 14 – is refused that entitlement. I believe it’s an entitlement, not a privilege.”

The district, however, considers Jeff to be an international student who is trying to take advantage of a free system in the U.S.

They tell him to pay 13,000 dollars a year, or go back to Thailand, where his parents live. However, a trip back to his family isn’t that easy:

“He couldn’t go back to Thailand if he wanted to,” Jeff’s lawyer explained.

“He doesn’t have $2,000 for a plane ticket. He belongs here, he lives here, and he’s been here. It’s been two years; it’s time for Montgomery County public schools to reconsider that decision.”

Everyday that goes by is another day lost for this teenager. By the time he reaches 16 the law will no longer be responsible for the gaps in his education.