In the old days, educators dealt with many fewer behavior problems. If two students were not getting along, they might have some sort of argument but that is where it ended. Unfortunately, nowadays, if two students are having issues with one another, a fistfight or worse could break out quickly with other students jumping into the mix. Then the parents would come into the office all angry and point fingers at the other student and not take any responsibility for their own child’s behavior. Never has handling behavioral issues in school been more difficult.
According to US government data, 41 students are expelled permanently from English state schools every single day. This is a 15 percent rise from the previous school year. For those of you thinking that is not a huge number, you have to realize how difficult it is for a school to reach a decision of permanently exclusion. By law, the school must have jumped through legal paperwork and proved that this student is a threat to others or is such a huge disruption that they cannot be in their school any longer. The legalities behind exclusion can be mindboggling as the child is given every chance to turn it all around. So, when 41 students a day are facing permanent exclusion, this should be considered huge news.
Who Is It Affecting?
There is a common theme among the students that are being expelled. They generally come from poverty-stricken families and qualify for free school meals. Most are from certain minority groups as well. Every now and then, a special education student with severe disabilities or needs can be excluded as well just because the school does not have the staff to meet their needs.
Who Is to Blame?
It seems the days of having a two-parent family have fallen by the wayside. When one parent is left to raise the child on their own, things can start to fall apart. For example, this means only one income is coming in for the family, if that. The child is also unsupervised for longer periods of the day and night. Plus, there is much less structure in their life. Things that should raise warning flags are overlooked and discipline is not handed out as it should be.
The School Is Left to Parent the Student
To put it bluntly, too many parents are failing to raise their children with values. When this happens, the school is left to deal with the mess that builds up year after year. And for the most part, the educators do a great job with becoming replacement parents for many of the kids. But sometimes you just have to cut ties with others for the sake of the rest of the students.
When Exclusion Is Warranted
There are certain times when exclusion must happen within the school district. It is always a tough decision to make as you give up all hope for the student succeeding in your school system, but nobody bats a thousand in life.
If a student is having problems with violence and it is happening over and over again, suspensions don’t seem to be working. Suspending a student for three days here and there just isn’t going to cut it. You have to ask yourself if you are willing to place all other students at risk for the sake of trying to get through to one kid. The answer should be no as continued violence can certainly escalate into serious injuries or even death. How can you explain to a parent that has lost their child forever why you didn’t permanently exclude the troubled youth that has demonstrated a love for violent acts?
You Can’t Please Everyone All of the Time
As an administrator and educator, you can’t please every parent. Any perceived slight against their child is often met with venomous rage and angry postings on social media within the community. But sometimes you just have to take the criticism and err on the side of caution. By using permanent exclusion as a tool to remove students that are a threat, you are letting the parents know that they must play a more active role in their child’s life. While schools are, unfortunately, left to raise kids because of absentee parents, we can’t do so when there is a risk to other students and staff.