Although they didn't ask for it, help was what the Outsiders needed.
visualizing the school, I saw a prison
so those days, I kept ditchin'
makin' money was my way of livin'
catch me broke you must be trippin'
I was hard headed, didn't listen
I was more focused on my own vision
— Rap lyrics by Outsider Edgar Landeros
One morning at the end of January in their junior year, David, Isaac, Mark and three others met at Birmingham. Hungry, they piled into Outsider Rene Rangel's Mustang and headed to Del Taco for breakfast burritos.
Police sirens blared. Patrol cars surrounded the Mustang. Police ordered the boys out of the car and scolded them for a broken taillight and truancy. One boy unexpectedly popped out of the trunk. Police pulled their guns on him. They hauled everyone back to school in handcuffs.
School officials had little patience. They saw students like the Outsiders as part of the problem.
Inside the dean's office, administrators found graffiti scrawled on Isaac's books and papers. They found rolling papers in one boy's pocket. Dean Matt Mowry — who was also the baseball coach — suspended four of the six boys.
Mowry turned to David. You hang out with these kind of kids?
The dean had warned David many times to improve his attendance. If a student failed three classes, he would no longer be eligible to play on the team. The dean looked up David's grades and discovered the four Ds from the previous semester.
He kicked David off the team.
And he told Rene Rangel, the driver, that he would be better off in an alternative school. He was the first Outsider to go.
In front of Mowry, Rene had called the cops "pigs" and cussed at the dean. Midway through his junior year, he had 64 absences in first-period algebra alone.
He had failed all six of his classes.