Sunday, April 26, 2015

When you can't keep them in school...

What happens when other parents and families are aware of one child's behavior, and are alarmed at what that child does both in and out of school? What if a family or families declares that this particular child MUST go? How does a program respond?

Many programs might find this incentive enough to ask the child's family to leave. This happens all the time.

Imagine that a child has some supports from the county, has a special education teacher coming into the classroom to coach prosocial behavior and speech, using the usual techniques, charts, stars, etc. and still that child has extreme episodes of violent behavior, usually precipitated by an anxiety-provoking situation (for him/her). Teachers can have their eye on that child, providing unusually time-consuming supervision and support above and beyond what one might expect in a program that does not have special needs personnel onsite. The child might be getting help off-site as well, and teachers can see some of the effects of this help, but it simply isn't enough to ward off a sudden, violent explosion that could hurt or harm someone.

The parents can call an emergency meeting of the IEP team. The school system can send a psychologist to observe. The preschool director can get involved in pushing the public school to accept the child, who is in crisis. A placement can be found in the public school special education program. This can be exactly what the child needs, and without throwing the family out without recourse. The current program should celebrate the child's last day, and the children who remain should be be allowed to discuss how they feel about the departure of their fellow student.

This is not expulsion. It is a successful transition for a child who needs more than a typical program can give.  The child is not rejected because of the complaints of others, nor by complaints by an overworked staff. The child is calmly transitioned, the family on board with the decision. The child is prepared by thoughtful adult "reframing" ("You are going to a new school!").

This way of giving a child and family a way through a trying situation to a better place is the result of reflective practice, hard work, and insistence on doing the right thing for the right reason. Thus a child receives the care he/she needs. And the learning community remains whole.

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