Accepted to RIT at age 14 but homeschooling mistakes are derailing his college dream

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — RIT was his dream school since he was 9, and at age 14, Eian-Gabriel Sinclair got accepted to the university.

A dream come true, but we’re talking about him because there’s a problem.

On the same week thousands of freshmen moved into RIT, Eian is at home in Penfield because of a history of homeschooling paperwork mistakes and omissions by his parents.

News10NBC learned those mistakes are derailing his dream and no institution has stepped in to help.

Eian was homeschooled by his parents his whole life.

In April, he passed the muster to get accepted at RIT, but because his parents didn’t register him in school and never registered his curriculum with his school district, they don’t have the certification to get Eian enrolled at RIT or get access to federal aid.

Brean: "How do you think you did it at 14?"

Eian-Gabriel Sinclair: "I was very blessed."

Because of conflicts and trust issues with schools and the justice system that separated him from his children from a previous marriage, Joshua homeschooled Eian but he did not file or get his curriculum certified by any school district.

Webster schools have no record of Eian. The Sinclairs live in Penfield but in the Webster School District.

And so despite getting accepted into the College of Arts and Design and getting approved for the RIT Founders Scholarship, Eian got an email from RIT Tuesday. The email said the school cannot enroll any student “unless they have fully satisfied the requirement of graduating from an accredited high school (including approved coursework if homeschooled.)”

Brean: "Are you kicking yourself right now?

Joshua Sinclair: "Oh I’m kicking myself for several things. As parents who have homeschooled for his life, and there were many complications that made the difficult for us, but in retrospect, there are many things I would’ve done differently."

Joshua Sinclair has written Webster schools, the RCSD superintendent and the New York State Education Department asking them to certify his curriculum retroactively.

Brean: "But so far the schools and the state are unwilling to do that?"

Joshua Sinclair: "It appears they are unwilling to do that at this point."

RIT classes start next week.

Brean: "So the clock is ticking here."

Joshua Sinclair: The clock is absolutely ticking."

Eian took two RIT summer courses but RIT says they don’t count toward a degree.

I contacted the Webster school superintendent’s office and the state education commissioner alerting them to Eian’s story.

On Wednesday, the city school superintendent forwarded Eian’s situation to BOCES thinking that might be an avenue.

I asked Joshua Sinclair — Why the rush to get to college?

He doesn’t call it a rush. He said Eian is accustomed to learning at a high rate and is surpassing his dad’s ability to teach him.
Joshua said he is worried about him getting discouraged.

One option is to take a series of tests to get a GED to prove Eian has a high school level of education. But in New York, a student can’t do that until they are 16.

RIT is prohibited from revealing information about specific students but they and all schools ask for "final verification" of high school bona fides. A good takeaway for parents who haven’t experienced college yet — there’s a difference between being accepted and being enrolled.