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Student Homelessness: A Panel Discussion  

Homeless teenager in a tunnel.What are the implications of homelessness for students and families, and how can schools and law enforcement improve coordination and communication to better support families in response to the crisis? The College of Education and Human Services explores this vital issue with a panel discussion titled "Meeting the Needs of Students and Families Experiencing Eviction and Homelessness: Opportunities for Improved Coordination among Schools, Law Enforcement & the Community" on Wednesday, November 15 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. in the Jubilee Hall, 4th Floor Atrium. Please RSVP to:

Recent figures estimate that there are over 1.3 million homeless students in the United States today. Beyond the trauma of eviction itself, the process can trigger a chain of events that severely impacts people's chances to regain stable housing and improve their economic conditions. Leo Ricketts, a senior majoring in history will be a featured panelist, speaking about his own first-hand experiences. He, along with his mother, experienced homelessness from six to eight years old, and then again for a period of two years beginning at age 13. It was during the latter time where he moved from a series of shelters in and around Paterson and Newark, N.J. Today, as a college student, he commutes from public housing where noise and other distractions make it difficult to find a quiet place to study. He often remains on campus and utilizes the library for intensive assignments. Hunger is another link in the chain of events that can affect academic performance, but Leo has developed strategies to succeed in the face of these challenges, including reliance on supports from Seton Hall: "I've become comfortable in uncomfortable situations," Leo states.

Make no mistake. Although his circumstances have been hard, Leo has risen above certain obstacles to become a high achieving student, scholarship recipient, and community leader with a passion for social justice. Leo has learned tough lessons, and most often on his own. Not every students has an opportunity to adapt like Leo, however. For the many K-12 students currently experiencing homelessness, schools cannot always provide safe haven. Now more than ever, school professionals are being called on to address issues stemming from and contributing to housing instability, and joining forces with area law enforcement may allow schools and police officers to better understand and serve the needs of students and families in their communities.

Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Leadership, Management and Policy and moderator for the panel states, "We will not find solutions to this issue in one panel discussion. The purpose here is to share and leverage knowledge and build better communication across all channels. One question we need to discuss is just about what teachers, principals and community institutions really know. Working together will foster conversation. That is our goal for the night."

The program is part of the "One Book, One College" initiative. "One Book, One College" is a series of events in support of the award-winning book "Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City" by Mathew Desmond. It is not necessary to have read the book in order to attend this event.

Meeting the Needs of Students and Families Experiencing Eviction and Homelessness: Opportunities for Improved Coordination among Schools, Law Enforcement and the Community

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
6:30 – 8 p.m.
Jubilee Hall, 4th Floor Atrium


Panelists: James Walters, Retired Detective Sergeant; Jeanna Velechko, Ed.D.'16, Lincoln Rutherford School Principal; Leo Ricketts, Seton Hall History Major and Africana Studies Minor.

Moderator: Carolyn Sattin-Bajaj, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Education Leadership, Management and Policy.

Categories: Education

For more information, please contact:

  • CEHS Dean's Office
  • (973) 761-9668
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