By the time he was 17, Antonio Rocha had bounced among 11 New York City schools and was reading at a first-grade level.
It wasn't until he told school officials "I want a lawyer!" that things began to change.
Administrators say they never "knowingly" placed him into inappropriate classes or schools. They say Rocha "had chosen to give up on his own education" by rarely showing up to classes, according to a transcript of the hearing included in Fertig's book. But Fertig's account indicates Rocha floundered for years in a system that was simply overwhelmed.
Hanging out in lower Manhattan one September morning in 2001, Rocha, then 12, witnessed the World Trade Center attacks from three blocks away and vowed to join the military. But five years later, he could still barely do simple work. ...