Can your child just be kicked out of school and abandoned?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by MidwestMom, Sep 14, 2008.

  1. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I am a Big Sister (actuallyl, age-wise, more like Grandma) in a Big Sister/Little Sister program. The child they picked for me is bipolar with ADHD. This week I stopped by her house to ask her dad when I can have her again, and found out she's had an "incident" in school and they don't want her anymore. I feel so bad. She has such a good heart, and I don't think she can control herself. How far can a school go to just toss out a kid? Do they have any obligation to make sure she gets into another school? I'm sorry to be asking--I know I've been a poster for a long time, but I didn't pay that much attention to posts like this (other than to shake my head). My own kids never had this happen to them. I am thinking that this is outrageous. Anything I can do to guide this dazed family in the right direction?
  2. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Did the family have an IEP in place? They may not know the ins and outs of getting proper help for their child.

    I would think the school district has to provide an education. You may need to help the family through this. I would go to the administrative office of the district and talk to whoever is in charge of enrollment. Explain the situation. If there is no IEP, assist that parents in obtaining one.

    I still think that due to shortage in staff, schools are overwhelmed in the number of kids they have and are not taking the necessary time to service those who may need extra help. Easier to let them go.

    school district are intimidating and I have a feeling there are more loop holes that parents can find if they know where to look. Of course, the school district will not advertise their expensive services, just the very basic mainstream ones.
  3. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    The short answer is "No, but they might try". I'm assuming she has an IEP- if not, the route to go is "the school should have initiated the IEP process". Let's just hope that didn't happen and the family refused it. Assuming that she is on an IEP now, they can change her placement, but they can't kick her out altogether unless she did something like bring a weapon to school or try to burn the school down- the things it takes are so extreme that the kid is probably arrested if that had happened, then, in juvy, they provide an "education" (I use that term very lightly for that situation.)

    Now, changing placement might mean that she would have to go to a different school- even that can be fought if there is reason. For instance, if they are trying to put her in a school for "bad behavior" but never tried a decent behavioral intervention plan where she was attending school.

    Going back to my first statement where I said the school district might try to have a student kicked out- in 6th grade, when my son became manic at school but we didn't know that is what it was (he didn't have the diagnosis yet), they called me from school and told me to come and pick him up, that they were putting him on long-term suspension and he would see the hearing officer to determine if he could ever come back (this was for being disruptive too many times in a short period- they said he was out of control). That was not compliant with the law, I fought it, he was allowed back in. But, the fight took the rest of the school year and he wasn't allowed back through that process. When I started the process, they said difficult child would get homebound instruction- and that was documented to cover their rears, so on paper it looks like he was provided with an education. Oddly enough though, the homebound instructor never showed up.

    The best thing to do- start documenting everything and compiling info on everything to date, contact a Special Education attny and let the director of Special Education at school district know about it. What I did- made a few phone calls and one visit to an attny, then wrote a letter to the school district Special Education director, superintendent, and my local rep on school board, I sent it certified mail to each person and included at the bottom "cc: Mrs. Principal & Mr XXX, attny at law." Things started changing pretty quickly after that. Another person you could add to your "cc list", state dept of educ. or the office for sped ed services. And, actually do send copies to these people. Refer to documentation proving things in the letter and include attachments of copied documentation. Then, they KNOW you are ready for a fight.

    PS Sending you a pat on the back and many KUDOS for being a Big Sister! :)
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2008
  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi, and thanks, both of you. This is a fairly unsophisticated family, doing all they can to get services for their child. She does have an IEP. I don't know what she did that was so bad the school is thinking of throwing her out, but I'm guessing it was some sort of violence. She is 13, but very small and the mental age of a seven year old (academically and emotionally). She in no way seems 13. She is obviously impaired. On top of her bipolar/ADHD, she also has seizures. I think her mom is a substance abuser...maybe she was exposed in utero to that...but I really never asked. The family is trying to get her into Day Treatment. She just got out of the hospital. But they were turned down for Day Treatment School. It's so nuts. I've never seen first-hand how they try to pass off "difficult" children to nowhere. This child has been known to threaten her younger siblings, even though she expresses great love for both of them to me and I have no doubt she means it. Poor little girl (I think of her as a young child--you would too if you knew her). Should I try to get them an advocate? They are very open to help and are overwhelmed. Right now they are afraid the social worker will have her sent away. The school district called the police and the case went to CPS. She lives with her father and stepmother.
  5. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    Geez, MWM, I'm so sorry to hear they are going through this. I think an advocate would be a great idea- I think you'd be a great one if you are up to it.

    One thing about my son's situation, which I speculate might be common- He technically had a BIP (Behavioral Intervention Plan) at school- BUT, the Functional Assessment was done by an inexperienced administrator, not by someone with knowledge about his diagnosis, which is required, and the BIP was a letter she had written stating that if my son was disruptive one more time, he would have to leave school. My son and I both were supposed to sign that (I think that was her version of a behavioral contract). I refused to sign and instructed my son not to. First of all, the assessment was not properly done, second, there was nothing in place to help him with his diagnosis, and thirdly, an unsigned agreement is not legally binding. My guess is that when the school district knows that they are dealing with people who aren't up on all the requirements, they try to pull stuff like that a lot. My guess is that is what is going on in with this family because I think that is how it got to this point.

    If the girl was refused day treatment because the day treatment didn't feel she needed it, then that supports the position that the school should be able to handle things in-house, in my humble opinion. She might have been violent- can you find out the specifics- was it two girls fighting or her throwing a chair at the principal or through a window? Did she take a weapon to school (that is a big one- throwing a chair across the room when you have an IEP for a disorder that effects behavior is not so much- unless it happens often).

    PS It sounds like this family could use a Warrior Mom present when CPS interviews them. Unless they can get an attny- but then that makes it look like they are hiding something.
  6. amazeofgrace

    amazeofgrace New Member

    "free and appropriate education" if she is unable to stay in the school for some reason (dangerous behavior) then they need to place her out of district or have someone tutor her at home. At least that's how it works here in NJ.
  7. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks again, guys.
    They seem to be used to CPS. Sadly, my guess is the school has called because of her behavior before. I would go with them, except CPS scares me to death. I am terrified of them. So I wouldn't be much help. As a school advocate, I'm pretty good, but I know someone who is trained and knows all the laws in Wisconsin.
    This child was just out of the hospital. It makes no sense to me that she was turned down by Day Treatment. I'll have to get more details. These parents are trying hard to make a good home for their children, and I feel so sorry for them...
  8. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    They are very lucky to have you trying to help them. Good luck and keep us informed! I hate to think of the wasted opportunities with kids when their families don't stumble across a person or knowledgeable resource to help. I hate to think where my son would be if I hadn't found this forum.
  9. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't know if you understand the Aussie term "battler", but it refers to someone who is good-hearted but just can't seem to win out despite their efforts. And yet they keep trying. However, often they just don't have the information they need to fight battles more appropriately, or they don't feel equipped enough.

    I've helped in similar cases here, where a child was refused support funding by our education disability people, and the mother was ready to accept this decision, simply because the decision had been made by the people who were supposed to know what was right, and what the needs were. "They're the experts, they know if my son qualifies or not," the mother explained. "But I can't help wondering - is it possible they made a mistake? I'd like to ask them this, but I don't want to offend them. After all, I'm just a housewife. I don't know anything."

    She was horrified when I told her that a lot of similar cases are often refused automatically, just to see who will challenge it and who will accept it. Because if more people accept the ruling without challenge, the department saves money. And effort. Once I explained that it was almost expected that people would appeal and nobody would be offended at her exercising her rights, she was fired up.

    I helped her draft a letter to the department and her son was given his support funding, at a high level.

    MWM, maybe in this case you could sit with the family and help them draft a letter of appeal to the school (or local education authorities). But you need to be sure that they will have the strength and courage to follow through. If they only do what you suggest, while you are there suggesting it, then she could be worse off than if you had never intervened. Sometimes if you begin an appeal process you HAVE to follow through with it all the way, or you will lose any advantage you stand to gain. For example, I met a person who said they desperately needed to be involved with the Special Education class I was working towards. The mother begged me to pull every string I could, to get them on the list. So I did - I pulled in a number of favours, I worked really hard; and then when it came down to the mother having to fill in the application forms, she "never got around to it". Couldn't be bothered. And of course, by then was 'justifying' her apathy by saying she hadn't really wanted it after all, that I had pushed her into it (I hadn't) or that she had changed her mind. I always take clear notes in these situations, I went back and checked my notes - "I am desperate, I will do anything to get this for my child, it is what I have longed for for years" seemed highly specific to me. She had pushed me to commit myself, before she had demonstrated her own commitment. In reality - she (the mother) was an attention-seeker, someone who gets off on having other people run around after her. So do be careful - it doesn't matter how genuine the child's need is, you need to require the family to make some degree of commitment to the appeal process so you don't get left with egg on your face.

    What I'm saying here - some people are genuine battlers. And some are users.

    It doesn't matter which they are in this case, it sounds to me tat the school have done the wrong thing. But YOU can't appeal on behalf of the child, it has to be the parents. And they must follow through on the WHOLE process. Yes, they can use help, but they have to know to ask for it and they also have to know to KEEP GOING and not get tired and give up because it's too challenging.

    The mother's possible substance abuse - a lot of people are not emotionally strong. Having a difficult child could have driven her to it. Not that it's an excuse, but sometimes it can be a factor.

    The child could be having the problems she is having, because of various factors in her basic make-up, or a complicating factor could be lack of access to decent services. Mentally put your child with a family that doesn't know what to do and doesn't understand. What would your child be like in such a different placement? Then consider - how would you have felt if someone came to you and said, "YOu can do even better for your child, you can do this, you can do that - all you have to do is wrote to the school and tell them that they have done the wrong thing." What if you have grown up knowing you never finished your schooling, knowing that you hated school anyway and for you it was a terrible place that did a lot of damage to you emotionally, that in your opinion school is a waste of time anyway for a kid who just can't learn - would you bother appealing? Or would you have the courage to appeal and keep on coping with the incomprehensible replies from the school, written in jargon?

    I'm not telling you to not help. I AM telling you to go in carefully and make sure they are FULLY informed as to their rights and their daughter's rights. Explain the alternatives for her, both now and later on. Ask them what they expect for her and want for her. Find out what they are already doing for her. Then get a clear statement from them on what they want to do (after you've informed them).

    If you draft a letter, base it on what they want, try to couch it in simple terms and do it while sitting with them so they have input. They MUST feel they 'own' that letter. Get them to sign it, get them to post it. If you suspect they might chicken out and not post it - then it's better that the letter not be sent.

    Walking away, when you realise you have no alternative, is painful. Walking away when you have no alternative but you've already wasted a lot of your time and resources that could have been better spent elsewhere on someone who was able to benefit - even more frustrating.

    Good luck with this one. I support whatever decision you make on this.

  10. SRL

    SRL Active Member

    Also consider the possibility that you're not being given complete or truthful information from the family. It's really easy to make the school district out like the bad guy.
  11. Superpsy

    Superpsy New Member

    klmno, just popping in to say..."wow"
  12. dreamer

    dreamer New Member

    I am not gonna even try to help with any answers, becuz I never found good answers. I just wanted to say YIKEs, it sounds so very very very much like everything we had to deal with with Buffy over the years.....and no matter how hard we worked, how hard we tried- even useing NAMI advocate help and CABF people coming to our side, things never ever got better. Yes, been there done that fresh out of phops, not only were we denied day treatment, we also had NO psychiatrist at the agency we went to to do followup. Matter of fact we got notification while Buffy was in psychiatric hospital that she had "successfully met her goals" and "graduated out" of WRAP and SASS. Nevermind at the time she was inpatient at psychiatric hospital, and they KNEW it. SO it was not just the school, but it was also the helping agencies here, the county mental health dept etc.
    Cheers to you for being a BBBS. MY sister in law was director of BBBS program in CA and my kids had Bigs. Now my easy child is submitting herself to become a Big.