On Chicago’s West Side, there is a school for the city’s most at-risk youth—the Moses Montefiore Academy. Most of Montefiore’s students have been kicked out of other schools for aggressive behavior, and many have been diagnosed with emotional disorders. VICE News takes viewers inside Montefiore’s classrooms and into the homes of students who are one mistake away from being locked up or committed to a mental hospital.
In the first part of the eight-part documentary, we meet two 14-year-old Montefiore students, Cortez and Crystal, who were sent to the school after violently attacking teachers. Cortez’s mother blames the boy’s father, who is serving a life sentence for murder. Crystal has stabbed her classmates and has been caught shoplifting since she arrived at Montefiore, which has left her mother on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Though the task can be overwhelming, the Montefiore staff never stops trying to reach the city’s most difficult and volatile student population.