By: Krystle Crossman
Washington DC native Relisha Rudd had been absent from school for over three weeks. The social worker from the school that she attended had been speaking to a Dr. Tatum who stated that he was taking care of Relisha because of severe medical problems which were keeping her from going to school. Relisha’s parents also stated that most of her absences were excused because of medical issues that this doctor was taking care of. It wasn’t until the social worker, LaBone Workman from Payne Elementary, went to the homeless shelter where Relisha had been living. He needed a doctor’s note to verify that she had been out so long because of an illness. When he arrived he and the school found out that they had been duped and suddenly the story of a sick child turned into a nightmare.
When Workman got to the shelter and began asked about Dr. Tatum he became suspicious. No one knew who he was talking about. After investigating further he was horrified to learn that the “doctor” that he had been speaking to on the phone wasn’t a doctor at all. He was a janitor at the homeless shelter where Relisha lived. All of a sudden there was chaos. An Amber Alert was sent out. Search parties were underway. The hunt began for a man named Kahlil Tatum who was wanted in connection with the death of his wife. Investigators believe that he had shot and killed his wife in Maryland. He was later found dead of an apparent suicide. Relisha is still missing, one year later.
Principal Vielka Scott-Marcus has been working hard with her students to ensure that they are being spared the horror of the situation. The student body at the school is made up largely by homeless black youth, many who came from the same shelter. The school was investigated but it was found that under the circumstances there wasn’t much that they would have been able to do to prevent this from happening. They did however recommend that the school improve its communication methods when dealing with a situation like this again, which they have done since Relisha’s disappearance. Scott-Marcus states that the school is supposed to be a safe haven for these kids who are homeless. It is made to be a place where they can get food, vent about their frustrations, and escape from real life just for a little while. They are taking all of the necessary steps to ensure that children will be safe in their school.