The worst has finally happened: your teen has been pushing the boundaries and often crossing straight over the line for months and has now been expelled for their behavior. The school’s administration refuse to overturn the decision, leaving your child out of school and you at your wit’s end.
According to data taken back in 2006, approximately 102,000 students are expelled across the United States. A staggering 3.3 million are suspended. Despite these high figures, public schools usually prefer to avoid either, as it takes away the student’s ability to learn. However, when they are disruptive enough to stop other students from learning it is no longer in their hands.
You have doubtlessly come to this conclusion yourself and are facing a great deal of turmoil because of it. You want your teen to learn, but you understand that they are unfairly making it harder for teachers to teach. What can you do?
The first step is to take a deep breath and stay calm. This kind of event can be devastating for parents and students alike, especially if you have been dealing with behavioral issues for a long time. Expulsion is a serious matter that can have long term consequences, which is why you have to be even headed as you deal with the fallout.
Remember that expulsion isn’t final until a hearing determines it. You have options.
Find Out The Details
You would be surprised by how complicated these matters can be. For example, one case saw a teenager who had been in trouble at school for years finally being expelled for pushing someone down the stairs. A deeply troubling situation, right? Except the details were more complex.
What actually happened (which was later proven by security footage) was another student jumped on the expelled student’s back while they were walking up the stairs. They pushed them off in an attempt not to fall backward and the student was injured.
Sometimes the details are very important to getting to the bottom of what occurred.
Decide If Your Child Can Be In School
Once you know what really happened you can begin to decide on your next move. There will be a chance to appeal the expulsion, but do you want to? If you can get the expulsion off your child’s record should they return to the same school? Do they need to be homeschooled, or to attend a specialized program?
Depending on what led to the expulsion, it may be better to find them an alternative, regardless of the final decision made.
Attend (or Request) Expulsion Hearing
You should have been given a date for an expulsion hearing given by the district. If you haven’t then you will need to request one. This is a chance to discuss what occurred and whether or not the expulsion should be overturned. In the lead up to this point you should make a plan to address any behavioral problems that led to the expulsion, which you can provide to the committee to take into account during the hearing.
It may also be helpful to discuss things with an attorney to specializes in family law. Especially if there was a legal component to the reason behind your teen’s expulsion, which could later lead to a court date or lawsuit.
Consider Punishment Versus Treatment
Obviously there should be some consequences for the expulsion and the events leading up to it. But try not to act out of anger, as difficult as that might be. Remember that your teen is facing some severe issues that led to this problem and that you will need to weigh punishment versus treatment to deal with them.
Chances are that you have done many punishments in the past that have failed to work, as well. It could be time to take things to the next level.
Seek Professional Help
There are any number of causes for severe behavioral problems in teenagers. Depression, mood disorders, personality disorders, drug abuse, trauma…the list goes on and on. That makes dealing with these problems harder, because it isn’t just a matter of forcing them to behave. If it were then every parent would be able to control the actions of their child and expulsions wouldn’t happen in the first place.
The first step is getting to the bottom of what is happening to your teen. A professional, trained to diagnose conditions and recognize serious red flags, is the only way to safely do this. Now that your teen is facing serious life consequences from their actions it is critical that you find someone to help them to improve their life.
Several options are available to families struggling with teen misbehavior:
Outpatient Therapy – An outpatient therapy program is a standard treatment option where you have your child see a professional therapist, psychologist or psychiatrist (usually a combination of the three) several times a week to several times a month. They will work with your teen to learn to cope with their emotions and improve their behavior while living at home.
Inpatient Therapy – An inpatient therapy program is a more extreme option for those who fear for the safety of their children (such as in cases where the teen is self harming or expressing suicidal thoughts). It is usually a hospital setting for a set period of time, during which therapy is provided and medication is used to stabilize their condition.
Specialized Schools – A specialized school is one where teens who are experiencing behavioral problems or sometimes criminal behavior are sent in order to keep them from the general school population. Special attention is given in smaller classes, by teachers who are trained to deal with violence or acting out.
Therapeutic Boarding Schools – Probably the best option for most, a therapeutic boarding school is one that balances therapy with academic tutoring to focus equally between the two. It is a private institution with on-site staff who are trained to deal with various conditions your teen may have.
Find out more at Sundance Canyon Academy.