Independent Lens: The Bad Kids

About This Episode


Located in an isolated and impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for at-risk students. Every student there has fallen so far behind that they have little hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school - Black Rock is their last chance. But tireless Principal Vonda Viland and the teachers at Black Rock are on a mission to realize the potential of students who were deemed lost causes by the system. Powerful and inspiring, The Bad Kids follows Viland and her staff over a year as they coach at-risk teens with compassion, respect, and a seemingly endless supply of patience.

The film focuses on three students - Lee, who has the additional pressure of now trying to support a child that he co-parents with another Black Rock student; Jennifer, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse; and Joey, a young man with a talent for music but who comes from an unstable home with a history of drug addiction - as they work through the traumas and obstacles that threaten their spirit and futures.