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Can a Private Preschool Board Kick Out a Disruptive Child?

by Nicole Vulcan

If you're the parent of a child who's been kicked out of private preschool for being disruptive, you're feeling frustrated and annoyed right now. There's not much to stop your child's preschool board from removing your unruly child, but know that you're not alone -- it's happened to many kids before yours. When faced with this circumstance, your best option is to start seeking out another school that is equipped to handle the social and emotional needs of your child.

A Common Problem

The problem you're facing is so common that a group of researchers from the Yale University Child Study Center took a long look at the numbers. In the study, about 10.4 percent of preschool teachers reported kicking out at least one preschool-age child within the previous 12 months; and nearly 20 percent of those said they kicked out more than one child. According to the researchers, that was 3.2 times higher than the rate for students in grades K to 12. The rates were lower in public schools compared to for-profit centers or faith-based centers. Older preschoolers and black students were expelled at higher numbers than other groups, according to the study.

Your Contract

If you're really concerned with getting some closure about the problem, look over your school contract carefully. If the preschool is organized enough to have a governing board, chances are its leaders have considered this issue carefully and have laid out the ground rules for expulsion. Look for information about discipline and behavioral expectations and try to find out whether the school needed to take other steps before expulsion. Generally, you should always read these contracts carefully ahead of time to ensure you know the process; if you didn't do that this time, do it with any new schools.

Getting Help

If you find that the school didn't follow protocol, you might have grounds for some type of refund, or even a civil suit, and it might be time to talk to an attorney who is familiar with education law. If your child has a documented disability, you might have more grounds for a lawsuit. While the experience is still fresh, write down all the details of the circumstance you can think of, such as incidents that preceded the expulsion. Gather any emails you received from school staff. Make copies of any receipts of payment. You might need any or all of these documents if you decide to sue for wrongful expulsion.

The New School

According to the Yale study, the rates of expulsion at preschools go down significantly when the school has mental health consultations available. Similarly, the National Institute for Early Education Research suggests that child care centers and preschools that have programs to address the social-emotional needs of young children can cut down on the prevalence of "challenging behaviors." When you start searching for a new preschool, talk to the school leaders about your child's issues, and find a place that is willing and able to handle her needs. Starting early with the right interventions can help kids get on the right track and avoid more disruptive and challenging behaviors as they get older.

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