Last Chance High

Last Chance High

Ratings: 8.21/10 from 118 users.

On Chicago's West Side, there is a school for the city's most troubling youth - the Moses Montefiore Academy. Most of the pupils there have been expelled from other schools for causing serious problems, and many have been diagnosed with various psychological disorders.

Last Chance High transports viewers inside Montefiore's classrooms and into the homes of these young pupils who are one error away from being sent to prison or committed to a mental institution. At first, we see two 14-year-old Montefiore students, Cortez and Crystal, who were sent to the school after furiously assaulting their former teachers. Cortez's mother condemns the boy's father, who is in jail for murder.

Crystal has injured her schoolmates and been caught stealing since showing up at Montefiore - which literally destroyed her mother and left her on the verge of psychological collapse. Though Montefiore teachers' job can be very difficult, they'll never abandon the city's most troublesome and unstable student population.

Montefiore is the only therapeutic school in the Chicago public school system. The main diagnosis among the students is the emotional behavioral disorder (EBD) and then a lot of it is just aggression. Most of the time the students are out of control because teacher don't have control over their home situation.

When the dean of the school describes the stuff that he has to do throughout the day, his friends are looking at him like he's crazy. The structure that they try to give to the students at Montefiore is only so much that they can do in a school. The restraint is used in special education but it's only supposed to be used when it's necessary. If they're becoming a threat to themselves or others that's the situation when a restraint is used. For everything else you have to talk them out. Patience is the main thing. The personnel already know that these teenagers have massive problems so they're not taking things personally.

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60 Comments / User Reviews

  1. Linda

    Montreal/Spanky broke my heart. His speech is affected by his home life with his father.

  2. Deb

    Allie, Spanky recovered his ability to speak properly :-)

  3. Deb

    Highlander, I couldn't understand a lot of what they were saying in the beginning. In fact I had to put captions on my t.v. in order to understand everything. All t.v's have that feature. However, I don't think your problem is really not understanding what they say. From the way you expressed yourself it seems like you don't understand or care about the problem that is being exposed at all. Montefiore was the only special ed public school in Chicago for children with behavioral and emotional problems. The children attending that school have those issues mostly because of the environment they grow up in. As you must know there are serious issues with violence and drugs in Chicago. The teachers and staff are angels who took it upon themselves to provide a much needed service to children in need. I am sorry that the way they speak is not up to your standards and because of it you were not able to understand the phenomenal work they do.
    U also did not get the chance to understand how much the system has failed these children because even though there is a desperate need for places like these in Chicago they ended up closing down Montefiore leaving most of these children to their own environment and to a faith of drugs, jail or death.
    I know watching the Kardashians is very glamorous but there are communities in your country that need help. It is ugly and messy but they are human beings. Also, the work that people who care enough to get involved do is more valuable than you'll ever know and deserves praise.

  4. Allie

    Spanky is an absolute gem. I have so much respect for Mr. Williams being such a supportive mentor. My only complaint is how Spanky kept getting warnings and told to walk away from the kid ripping on his stutter. Personally I'd like to beat the piss out of that kid, because if anyone needs to correct their behavior, it's him. Spanky is totally rational in his responses and he suffers an obvious impairment which he's relentlessly teased for. Furthermore, he shows interest in his schooling and responds well to coaching. The other kid is a twat who is bullying him without any provocation whatsoever.

  5. Arnold

    The Family is a Triangle Father , Mother, Child. If Either one Breaks Down This is what you get.

  6. Kuvi

    Are these kids poor

  7. Violet

    "A nation's greatness is measured by how it treats its weakest members." ~ Mahatma Ghandi

  8. Lois

    I was VERY touched by these amazing teachers that truly dedicate themselves to these kids. I was watching the children's eyes through the whole set of videos. They do not want to be these people they are portraying. There is great pain in their eyes and I was in tears for these kids. Parents are most of these kids problems. I cannot tell you in words how heart breaking it is to see kids that are not being given a fair shake at life. The school is doing all they can. Now the parents need to step up or step out. I hate to see kids go into foster care, but if I didn't live a thousand miles away, I would take them all. Love is really all they need and to be able to feel safe. My mother used to say " if not but for the grace of God, there goes I ". Be thankful if you had someone in your life who cared, because those kids could have been you! It only takes one person to make a huge difference and I for one am going to try harder .

  9. jojopug

    I live a mile east of this school. I find it interesting that the filmmakers seem to have deliberately left out the Costco sitting right next to this school in an attempt to make the neighborhood look worse.

  10. Maya

    That's how kids turn out when the government bans you from spanking them, where's the government now? My parents spanked me..and I never ever dared talk to them with such disrespect. When government and welfare take control from the parents,they have to take the consequences too.

  11. Jackie

    From what I've seen there are two or three students that definitely are being touched by these adults and what they are doing --- most of all Cortez and Spanky. I cried so hard during the episode following Cortez getting back on his medication, finally after the pastor stepped in and took charge by going to his house one morning and discovered that his mother was neglecting to make sure he was taking medication each morning before school. Surely enough, he's given his medication the next morning and, just like day and night, Cortez is able to calmly and clearly reveal the pain and frustration of missing his father, he even gives such clear insight into how the absence of a male figure in his life has contributed to his violent and destructive behavior. The same evening, he's able to finally even sit down, stop pacing as he seemed to be all the time before, and spends the evening writing to his father in a notebook.

  12. Jackie

    Amazing series...please continue to tell the story of these youngsters. I hope that more stories like this will be told in the future about kids growing up in cities like Chicago, Detroit, Baltimore, etc. Not only to just raise an awareness but more importantly to help build MORE therapeutic schools where kids can meet mentors like the amazing people at this school.

    I truly cannot tell you how much I admire the teachers and individuals from this community and the amount of time, energy, and love they dedicate to trying to keep these kids off the streets.
    Both Spanky and Cortez lack a father figure at a pivotal time in their lives, the crucial developmental stage in transition to adolescence, and it is only out of the love of the community pastor and the coach that these two boys are given the chance to have a positive male figure to intervene in their life and guide them in the right direction.

  13. Eric Lawson

    Poor young man! So much going against him. Health as well. Once again no Father !!!

  14. Eric Lawson

    Yet one more child without a father Wow !! It is so obvious what the problems are. They need a strong father figure !!!

  15. Eric Lawson

    Another Father in prison. The Kids are all drugged up Sad !!!

  16. Eric Lawson

    Fathers are in Prison or gone.Not in this young mans life ! A prison cell just waiting for this young man Sad !!!

  17. Eric Lawson

    Very Sad !!!The parents need more money in order to be able to afford these kids !!!

  18. Berty Popperdopper

    How much longer can people (liberals) have pity for this mess...
    If the parents don't give a s**t and refuse to install values in their children, i can only but fear the offspring of those children, as they will have even less moral fortitude.

  19. Jennifer Grey DeWitt

    one of the saddest things I have ever seen. It cant go in like this in the world. If we cant do better than this by our young then I dont know that we deserve a future on this planet.

  20. gaboora

    This school is not working. What is the cause of these kids being like this? Poverty? No, I will tell you: parents who fornicated instead of loved and married.

    1. Pepe Alvarado

      What makes you sure the school is not working? Could it be better? -Probably. But it definitely does a better job than regular public schools. That being said, absence/lack of love at home definitely plays a role in their attitudes.

    2. gaboora

      That school is a joke because the kids rule there instead of the teachers. Such a school cannot work, period. The kids need to be counselled and then brought into line so they become what their parents failed to be.

    3. Pepe Alvarado

      It's the same as a regular public school, kids greatly outnumber staff. Public schools with many mischievous kids also tend to be "over-run", and this being a school of misbehaving children makes it expectable. They do as best as they can, with whatever resources they have available. There is only so much force you can use on the children to teach them something or make them do what you want. The school staff said it best: There is only so much you can do about these children, because most of the time they live outside the school boundaries. You can't reform a person if they have the chance to do whatever they want most of the day.

    4. Aroha

      Sir, it's all too easy to put people down, especially kids and people who can't reply to you. These teachers and social workers are the last hope for these kids. They are trying against all odds. It doesn't matter how these kids got there and blaming their parents is just too easy. Please try to be kind and look beyond prejudice. These kids need love and guidance with a firm hand yes, but also with open ears, hearts, and minds. All the best to you and your famiy.

    5. christianmonk

      In actuality, it is IDENTITY. I know PLENTY of mothers raising children who received full scholarships to high academic high schools (Bronx School of Fine Arts) then (Pratt Institute - my former girlfriend's daughter) and now was accepted at a school in Great Britain on full scholarship for her masters degree. Fornication has nothing to do with how a child is raised. My own wife raised her daughter having her attend catholic schools for all of her 1st - 12th grade and she finished college and is now an LPN studying to become an RN. These are the people I know personally who raised their daughters to succeed. I have not seen the documentary but notice that this is filled with black boys. Stop right there and let's analyze this.

      Aroha below is correct. These boys need love and respect. You must reach people where they are and these boys are searching for acceptance while carving an identity to deal with the reality of living in America as a young black male. It doesn't matter whether they are rich or poor, social class does not determine a person's behavior, rather the people in their lives and the influence these people are making determines their behavior which they see as a barometer of behavior. When boys are taught how to respond as an adult, their response, not reaction, will have a better outcome. Instead of blaming their conception, be part of the solution by going out there and cultivating a relationship with Big Brother or any organization that works with males at risk (I hate that term but I didn't give them that label, but the whites who believe them to be at risk did).

      Become part of the solution and not part of the problem. Work through a church program or youth program and choose one or two black youth to work with. Stop being an arm chair quarterback and help these brothers. Service to others is the price you pay for your room here on earth. This is what it is all about.

    6. bringmeredwine

      That was a great post! My hat goes off to you:)

  21. Nicole Luvs Her

    Why can't everyone just agree that these kids are seriously in need of a new life, change of scenery, more input from POSITIVE people in their lives.. Maybe even counseling to work out some deep issues. It's very sad to see any child live like that... black, white, orange, or purple. Judging by the ignorance in the comments section, some of you may have benefited from a school like this one.

  22. bringmeredwine

    I read all the comments, naturally, before I watched this.
    I'm Northern Canadian, not the brightest bulb on the tree by any means; but had no trouble understanding what everyone was saying.
    The folks who work at this school are phenomenal. Especially the coach.
    My only concern with the school was how the students victimised by their peers and voicing this, weren't acknowledged. When Christal explained what the boy was doing to her, no one empathised with her. Or when the boy was trying to read aloud, the other kid wouldn't stop tormenting him.
    I think bullies should be reprimanded or removed from the situation. It must be very difficult for the kids who are reached, and want to learn; if someone is allowed to go on harassing them.
    To all the haters out there; look where these kids live. Look at the scenarios they're born into. Everything is stacked against them from the time they are conceived.
    It is my deepest hope that most students can someday be reached by these marvellous teachers, and a light will go on inside their heads. That they can somehow carve out a meaningful, satisfying life for themselves.
    It is my deepest fear that some of these teachers might get killed trying to save these youngsters.

    1. wendy

      Well said! A lot brighter than most.

    2. bringmeredwine

      Thanks! Sometimes, I have my moments,:)

  23. charlieb1488

    Those poor misunderstood angels. We should blame the white establishment. LOL. That is what happens when you have a thug mentality. None of those animals will be anything but a drain on society.

    1. Pepe Alvarado

      None of your comments so far have been anything but a drain on society. Don't you realize your comments have a thug mentality? You are being as insulting and disrespectful as the "animals"(your words) you criticize... ................................................................................................................... Not a single person in the video blames the "white establishment", as a matter of fact the word white isn't mentioned a single time in the whole series. The black&white dogmatic mentality is primitive and separatist, avoid it if you have any restrain over yourself. ................................................................................................................. These kids react the way they do because of the environment they grew up in. Most learn at home, by some sort of abusive treatment, that the way to react against being annoyed is a "in your face" violent attitude. Their world hasn't seen anything different. What they need is compassion, a tolerant environment, and a positive role model.

    2. dewflirt

      Attitudes such as yours are more tiresome and demanding than anything these children present.

  24. Black Scholar

    There is NOTHING wrong with these children. America's socio-economic DYING system is what's wrong with them. No jobs. Bad food, impoverished neighborhoods, and a constant police state; this IS America's policy against poor Black people.

    and THAT is what's wrong with these kids. Also, toss in the CIA rolling in drugs and guns and BINGO a war zone

    1. charlieb1488

      Yeah because if drugs are present you MUST become a drug addict. Wake up. 12% of the general population and 50% of the prison population and every excuse in the book why it is everyone else's fault.

    2. Pepe Alvarado

      Your percentual statistics would be relevant if drugs were to be legal. But, since drug possession is punished with jail, it is of no wonder that there will be a larger percentage of drug users in prison.

    3. Svetlana Vigliaturo

      According to general psychology the child is considered to be emotionally developed by the age of 5(7). So what is put into the heart of the little ones (joy or sadness, happiness or anger etc) will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Some corner stones might change or trim their personal characters, but emotions they developed in early childhood will never be changed. The most important are the earliest experiences, even, as they now claim, at the time when they are still in their mother's belly. The older they become the less acceptable they react to the changes of emotional environments. It is so sad, but those kids have very shaky emotional base to build a stable home (their personalities). If we add to that genetic memory, body chemistry, bad nutrition, early abuse etc you will get a really difficult case of self destruction. I believe that only unconditional love can turn upside down their world, which in real life they most lack of.

  25. Highlander

    Dewflirt, , you misunderstand me. I agree with the concept of trying to help disadvantaged kids in every way possible. My comment was aimed at the documentary . I , personally , could not make out what either the kids or their teachers were saying . I would have continued to watch otherwise. I very much hope that this school helps many of those kids, but there appeared to be very little discipline in the classrooms, bus or corridors . With no regard for rules , how these folks going to integrate with society as most of us understand it?

    1. dewflirt

      Ok H, I'll let you 87% off the hook ;) My apologies for getting ranty, I read 100's comment and thought yours was in the same vein. Discipline is a long game with kids like these, start laying down the law and all you'll get for your efforts is a fat lip and sore head! A friend of mine works in a school a little like this one, (UK) patience of a saint is a necessity. That and thick skin. Honestly, a civil word from any of the kids is a major breakthrough and a huge responsibility. When they finally let their guard down they're pretty much hooked on you. More than anything, they are frightened. IF they make it back into mainstream education, they might have a chance of integration. Sadly that seldom happens, they end up becoming exactly what society expects them to be. Our prejudice makes sure of it. Sorry for mine, I'm glad you care ;)

  26. dewflirt

    You can never know how your care might influence a child's life, absolutely worth trying though. There's always a chance that you might say or do one small thing that stays with them, let's them know that somebody thought they were worth something. The coach is a good bloke, if only there were more like him, more schools like this, fewer situations that lead kids to needing them. I hope Spanky finds his voice, he's not a bad kid. Sometimes, when you can't say what you want to say, saying anything at all can be a challenge :)

    1. Pysmythe

      Conversely, and I know this is part of what you meant, you should try to be very, very mindful of what you say to them in some moment of impatience or loss of temper, since you never know what's going to stick with them. Kids are made to take what adults say seriously, sometimes to their detriment, although the effects might even be pretty subtle. Our responsibility to them is obviously tremendous, and is the main thing left that can still rather terrify me if I think about it too much. And yet the older I get and the closer to death, children, and not just my own kids and grandkids, seem about the only thing really worth living for, on the whole. Fear, fear of f-cking up, of not doing the job right, has its uses, I suppose. I think it's a part of the natural order of things. And yet letting a child know that you genuinely love them, and that they have innate worth, too, makes up for a lot of inevitable mistakes.

  27. InvisibleHandInMyPants

    You know, when your comments border on racist rants, perhaps the best plan is to just move on and spare the world your bs.

    1. charlieb1488

      Whenever anyone criticizes Black- no matter how accurate the criticism is, people yell RACISM.

    2. Pepe Alvarado

      Whenever anyone criticizes Black, no matter how accurate the criticism, it IS racism. ................................................................................................... The objective of criticism there is people grouped by the color of their skin, and it's a generalization. NOT A SINGLE accusation you make would fit in every black person's shoes

  28. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

    Comments such as Peter100's are blatant illustration of the problem at hand. Just vapid pessimism and emotional ignorance.

    The principal reminds me of Samuel L. Jackson.
    The kids remind me of myself.

    Spanky seems like the most sane of them all.
    His voice will come back.

    +1 VICE

  29. Highlander

    Looks horrendous, but sorry , without subtitles I can make almost nothing of this. Neither kids nor teachers speak English that I can follow. Gave up after 15 mins

    1. dewflirt

      About 300 million English speakers in the world, whether it's their native tongue or not, they'll most likely have an accent different from yours. That's a lot of people to give up on, do they all get 15 minutes to prove themselves or have you just made it a blanket rule to ignore them all?

    2. charlieb1488

      What accent is Ebonics?

    3. dewflirt

      I think the preferred term is African American Vernacular English.

  30. petert100

    What a nightmare school. These kids should be locked up.

    1. mandymandy74

      Do you really think that's the answer?

    2. ~Oliver B Koslik Esq

      I don't think Peter has the intellectual capacity needed in order to facilitate even formulating constructive ideas. Nor well thought out solutions. Especially pertaining to combatting such multi faceted psycho-social issues...

      Good question tho!

    3. christianmonk

      Thanks counselor for your insight.

    4. dewflirt

      Wow, what a brilliant idea! You should definitely be in charge of all the troubled, frightened, mistreated children. Hey, maybe we should lock up stroppy old people too, especially the ones with sticks and the joy-riders on mobility scooters that rake ankles as they fly by, also the ones with mental health problems like dementia because they can be quite violent at times. And all the cantankerous old buggers that harp on about the good old days when kids like THAT would have been given a good hiding. I think you're on to a winner, this is only the beginning! In fact we could lock up everyone that isn't you! Though.... it might be easier if you just stayed home and kept to yourself.