Until then, De-Zhon and his mother had been fairly happy with American Indian. "I'm a single mom, and I'm trying to raise an African American young man, and I'm very serious about his education," said Chaka Grace.
But on Jan. 20, De-Zhon stayed home to watch the inauguration with his extended family. And that crossed a line for Roberts, who believes that nothing -- absolutely nothing -- should get in the way of class. According to De-Zhon's mother, Roberts said the boy would receive extra work as punishment and that she might rescind his recommendation to a private high school.
That, said Grace, "took it to another level for me. . . . I felt that was evil." She pulled her son out of the school.
De-Zhon, a neatly dressed, well-spoken boy who came back for a visit, conceded that he misses American Indian.
"I miss my class; I miss my teacher," he said.
There are no televisions at American Indian -- no computers in the classrooms, either -- so there was no way for students to watch the inauguration. But Roberts wants to be clear: They wouldn't have been allowed to watch it anyway.