My son was expelled from preschool.
I got a knot in my stomach. Was he THAT bad? How was I going to make it to work without child care?!?
No time to panic. As a single mom, I’ve learned how to handle less than ideal situations. This was one of them. I said to myself, “Ok Elizabeth, find a new preschool and move on.” Made a thousand calls. Visited numerous preschools, many of which did not have any open spots.
Alas, I found one. He was all set up to start the following week. He lasted three months there. I will never EVER forget the day I got this phone call…
“Elizabeth, this is the director of the preschool program and we need you to come right now and pick up your son.”
“What? Why? Is he ok?!?!?”
“He is fine. However, he has been so misbehaved he made one of our teachers cry.”
Was this a joke? A grown woman is crying because my son is being a little jerk? Come on lady…you’re an adult and my son is a THREE-YEAR-OLD. Now I don’t doubt that my son was misbehaved…but for an adult to start crying?!?!? Who is the child here?
Now what?!? Expelled from another school. It was time for some true research…
A study done by the University of South Florida found that an estimated 5,114 preschoolers are expelled every year in this country. Preschoolers are FOUR times as likely to get kicked out of school than their older peers in grades K-12. It’s shocking to read these statistics, yet reassuring to know I wasn’t the only parent dealing with this.
I contacted the Sarasota County School Board who initially told me, “Sorry we can’t help.” Umm ok? I made so many phone calls that I had worked my way up to someone in Tallahassee. That’s what it took to finally get through to someone. It took serious persistence to get through to anyone who cared! I felt like a broken record each time I made a phone call but I wasn’t giving up. What ever happened to “no child left behind” ???
How can these schools keep doing this? How was my son supposed to get an education? Further, how was I supposed to go to work? He’s never going to learn if he has to keep changing schools!
Finally, the Sarasota County School Board set up an evaluation for my son. Whew, finally we had some sort of intervention in place. Progress!
As a last minute fix I found a respectable preschool that was a little further away from my house but it would have to suffice for the time being. This time I spoke with the school AHEAD of time to explain that he was having behavior problems. I begged them to let him stay in their program until the evaluation was complete. I think they sensed my desperation…they agreed to help.
After his evaluation the school board allowed him to be placed in an ESE (exceptional student education) class so he couldn’t be kicked out anymore. We developed an IEP (individualized education plan) with behavioral goals. This was not an easy process. In order for the school board to accept his IEP he needed to have some sort of an issue or diagnosis and there is no diagnosis for being a pain in the butt.
He didn’t have a speech problem.
He’s not autistic.
He didn’t have a physical handicap.
He wasn’t developmentally delayed.
His problem was his strong will…
…and he’s not alone! Let’s not forget the other 5,114 preschool students that were also expelled for similar issues. Isn’t the purpose of PREschool to prepare them for kindergarten and elementary school?
Last school year (2016-2017) he met most of his behavioral goals. This was the FIRST time he got to be in a classroom with teachers who had actual training in early childhood education. Perhaps the issue was not just my son’s behavior but also the lack of training and education of the “teachers.”
The state of Florida has no obligation to provide preschool education. Meaning: they can VERY EASILY expel your child at anytime.
I don’t give up easily…in fact I don’t give up at all. This child of mine is probably the biggest challenge of my life. He’s tough as nails…but I’ve got news for him…
…SO AM I.
That apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.