Updated: Oct. 2, 2011 -- Chief Jasaad Rogers wore cool sunglass, loose-fitting khakis, and a crisp white shirt on his first day of school. All summer long, the 4-year-old had waited for the moment to go where big boys go, like his 8-year-old brother Jaiyere.
The school year marks a new beginning for the Rogers family, whose foray into Boston public schools has been pocked with disappointments.
Chief did not get into any of the three schools his parents had selected in the school lottery, which assigns 4-year-olds a seat in kindergarten.
Kimesha Janey-Rogers and her husband, Jeff, faced the same fate with Jaiyere three years ago when he did not get into any of his seven choices.
The Rogers decided then to enroll Jaiyere into a parochial school in Mission Hill, and had hoped to send Chief there as a backup. It soon became clear that they could not afford to keep both boys there.
For a time, the Rogers considered sending their boys off to Lincoln, through the Metco program, which allows city children to attend suburban schools. But earlier this year, Jaiyere got accepted into the MATCH Charter Public Middle School in Jamaica Plain. And so did Chief.
The Rogers, who had long expressed a deep commitment to Roxbury, happy they have decided to stick with a school in the city, even though MATCH is a charter school.
“We had gone back and forth about staying in the city,’’ Jeff Rogers said. “MATCH is a relatively new school, and it will give us a chance to dig in and get involved.”
Update: March 28, 2011 -- The news came last week in a short, crisp letter from the School Department: “We regret to inform you that Jasaad Rogers did not receive any of his/her choices for kindergarten for September 2011,’’ according to the letter.
Curled up on her sofa that Sunday evening, Kimesha Janey-Rogers recalled reading the letter with resignation.
"I didn’t have my hopes up,” said Janey-Rogers, who said she had tossed the letter in the recycling bin.
Kimesha Janey-Rogers and her husband, Jeff, had hoped that Chief Jasaad would fare better than his older brother Jaiyere did three years ago, when he did not get into any of the seven Boston public schools his parents picked for him. He attends a parochial school.
Janey-Rogers said she and Jeff can barely afford to keep Jaiyere in his school, let alone send Chief there. But more choices are becoming available.
Chief is on a wait list at Neighborhood House Charter School in Dorchester. He and Jaiyere were also accepted into the Match Charter Public Middle School in Jamaica Plain.
“I don’t know what I want to do,'' explained Janey-Rogers." I want them to go the same school together. But Match is a brand new school. It’s not been proven yet. Do I want to pull Jai out of his school and put him to [Match]? I’m not saying it’s a no. But it’s not a ‘Yay’ ‘’ either.
March 13, 2011 -- Jeff and Kimesha Rogers are counting on luck in this year's school lottery.
Three years ago, the Roxbury couple left the school system dismayed after their first-born son, Jaiyere, did not get into any of their seven choices. Instead, they enrolled him in parochial school, where he is now in the first grade.
The Rogers are hoping the lottery will bring better news for their other son, Chief Jasaad, who will turn 4 in June.
"If I don't give the school a B+ then he won't go,'' said Jeff Rogers. “I can't afford to put him in a parochial school, but maybe I'll just do that. ... We are not going to move out of Roxbury, even if we could. But I'm going to find a way to get him into a good school.''
Rogers, 29, is a senior family partner at Children Services of Roxbury, which helps disadvantaged children and their families. Kimesha, also 29, is a district manager at the retail company Expressions who sometimes log 15-hour days. The couple, who grew up attending Boston public schools, live in a spacious, neat single family on a dead-end street.
Frustrated that Jaiyere didn't get any of his picks, Kimesha Janey-Rogers turned over this year's school decisions to her husband, who is anxious to find out where the school district will send his little boy.
"I remember opening up the letter [from BPS] and thought 'We can live if we get our third choice,' '' recalled Kimesha Janey-Rogers of her disappointment three years ago. "I thought, 'How bad can we do?' ''
Now, Jeff Rogers has kept his choices to just three schools, all in Roxbury. He would love if Chief attends a school that doesn't have too many student behavioral issues and one where children are expected to excel instead of simply getting by. But, he said, he's facing reality.
Rogers is an advocate of Roxbury who grew up near there, attended schools there, and lives, loves, and works there. Deciding where to send Chief runs contrary to his passion for his neighborhood. But when it comes to their sons, he and his wife are prepared to tighten their budget even more to send Chief to join Jaiyere at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Mission Hill. And they are considering charter schools.
"For me it’s a little bit of unrepentant hypocrisy,'' Jeff Rogers said. "I know I want the Boston Public Schools to be strong and my pride in Roxbury is very high. But if you say, 'Jeff, can we take your kids and put them in a random school in Roxbury?' I'd have to say 'no thanks.' "