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COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA

OFFICE OF COUNCILMEMBER TRAYON WHITE, SR., Ward Eight

For Immediate Release

Homeless Ballou STAY Student Denied Right to Play for College Recruiters
District of Columbia State Athletics Association determined student eligible to play

(Washington, D.C., September 17, 2018) — Ballou STAY High School senior, Mr. Jamal Speaks, sat on the
bench during Saturday’s game after Principal Dr. Willie Jackson refused to allow him to play. When
asked about the circumstances surrounding his decision, Principal Jackson communicated to
Councilmember Trayon White that he did not want any negative publicity. In response, the community
was outraged, including parents, teachers, students, and players.

Mr. Speaks previously had issues with eligibility due to residential verification however, was cleared to
be a District of Columbia Public School (DCPS) student last year and this school year. Councilmember
White spoke to Mr. Clark Ray, Executive Director of the District of Columbia State Athletic Association
(DCSAA) and communicated with Interim Chancellor Amanda Alexander whom both confirmed Mr.
Speaks was eligible to play. "We live in this community and see individuals going through difficult
circumstances every day. This young man has been through enough. We need to make sure he
graduates and assist him in securing a college scholarship. This kind of opportunity will change the
trajectory of this young man's condition by immediately providing him with housing, food, positive
extracurricular activities, and college education,” stated Councilmember White.

An advocate for Mr. Speaks told Councilmember White that the student is staying on a friend’s couch
and does not have family support. In a conversation, Mr. Speaks told Councilmember White he is aware
that he is able to play for any DCPS football team. However, he considers Ballou as his family and has no
desire to play for another team. The support of this player was reciprocated by his fellow teammates
who delayed the game by an hour, refusing to play, protesting the decision made by Principal Jackson
not allowing Mr. Speaks to play.

Councilmember White contacted Mayor Muriel Bowser, Interim Chancellor Alexander and Principal
Jackson to address the concerns surrounding this players eligibility. "This goes beyond football,” stated
Councilmember White. “This is the kind of player we need to put our time and resources behind. We
cannot afford to turn our backs on this young man.”
Councilmember White will be following this situation closely and is working with Mr. Speaks and his
advocate directly to assist him with securing housing.

About Councilmember Trayon White
Councilmember Trayon White represents Ward 8 of the District of Columbia. He provides support and
empowers people who suffer from the social impact of crime, violence, drug abuse, educational
disparities and poverty. He is known for his common-sense approach and business acumen to combat
social ills in Ward 8. Councilmember White prides himself on being a servant leader and an example for
young people, a mentor for many, and a support for all youth in Ward 8 and across Washington DC.
Trayon White was elected to the D.C. Council in November 2016 and serves on the Committee on
Housing and Neighborhood Revitalization; Committee of the Whole; Committee on Education;
Committee on Government Operations; Committee on Human Services; and Committee on Labor and
Workforce.

CONTACT: For additional information, please contact Wanda D. Lockridge, Chief of Staff, at either (202)
724-8045 or wlockridge@dccouncil.us.

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