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An extraordinary principal’s journey to help her students realize their potential
Education • At Risk Youth • Sociology • Adolescent Development • Leadership
2016. Directors Keith Fulton & Lou Pepe.
84 & 101 Minutes. Includes Captions on 101 Minute Version.


Located in an impoverished Mojave Desert community, Black Rock Continuation High School is one of California’s alternative schools for students at risk of dropping out.  Every student here has fallen so far behind in credits that they have no hope of earning a diploma at a traditional high school.  Black Rock is their last chance. THE BAD KIDS is an observational documentary that chronicles one extraordinary principal’s mission to realize the potential of these students whom the system has deemed lost causes. The film follows Principal Vonda Viland as she coaches three at-risk teens––a new father who can’t support his family, a young woman grappling with sexual abuse, and an angry young man from an unstable home––through the traumas and obstacles that rob them of their spirit and threaten their goal of a high school diploma. As Principal Viland’s educational approach unfolds throughout the film, viewers are offered a practical model for how public education can address and combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of American schoolchildren.

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Reviews & Quotes

"An intelligent and penetrating documentary that along with similar films SelectED and Paper Tigers offers a useful blueprint for creating schools that help students succeed. Recommended for academic education collections as well as public collections serving parents and those in government setting community and state education policies."

The Bad Kids details triumphs and failures with a clear, empathetic eye that’s attuned to the many forces working against these teens and the administrators tasked with helping them achieve their degrees. "

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