DSM: RE: kicking kids out

From: Joe Jackson (shoeless@jazztbone.com)
Date: Tue Nov 27 2001 - 23:01:34 EST


Karen,

I don't think we've had any suspensions or expulsions in the last couple
of years. But here's how it would generally go in our first couple of
years:

If a student seemed to get written up for something over and over,
usually it would end up coming to school meeting, and a parent
conference with or without a suspension would happen. Then, if the
student returned and went back to doing whatever which was disrupting
the school or injuring other students, there could be another, longer
suspension and another parent conference, or sometimes we would do an
"indefinite" suspension wherein the student must reapply and be voted
back in by School Meeting to return.

It is my memory that we have never actually expelled a student. The
"indefinite suspension" measures were only applied for cases where the
student was endangering the school or doing something abusive or
dangerous to other students. There was also one student who was six and
would try to leave the school and walk home (a ten-mile trip on a very
busy highway!). He was suspended and then after another time or so his
mom pulled him out for a while. He came back and that was several years
ago and he's doing very well now.

Most of the other cases had the parents either pulling the kids out or
choosing not to reapply to the school. In one case a student was
suspended for the last two months of the year. He had brought alcohol
to the school, brought a knife, and threatened to bring a gun and shoot
people in the school. This was in the weeks following Columbine. He
was suspended for the last two months of the year; his father pulled him
out.

If you have children being harassed, especially physically, I would
attempt to use all my influence to have some very hard boundaries laid
out very quickly. Children need to feel like they are safe, and they
need to feel like the school meeting has the ability to make decisions.
Suspensions can often go a long way towards creating time and space for
students acting out to decide if they would like to stay in the school
or not.

Staff members, in the conference, can go a long way towards making it
very clear that the decision to continue is the student's, by outlining
exactly what they need to do to get expelled. In other words, say you
have a kid who is walking up to other kids and physically attacking
them. In the parent conference following a suspension, the staff member
can say, "Now, I just want to make it clear to you that if you decide
you do not want to continue here at Fairhaven, you will be sending that
message to school meeting by continuing to hit students."

I have often argued that sentences for regular offenders of
misdemeanor-type rules should not have escalating sentences. While that
is arguable, I think it is fairly clear that escalating sentencing is
necessary for the more serious attacks on the school and the other
students. And obviously the more intermediate sentences for these
things can include conferences, suspensions, indefinite suspensions and
expulsions.

The types of things that would get serious quickly are physical
violence, contempt of JC or School Meeting (where the student ignores
sentences), endangering the school (like breaking a law), and when a
student starts going nuts and breaking all kinds of different rules all
at once.

Good luck at the meeting tomorrow.

-Joe Jackson
Fairhaven School

> -----Original Message-----
> From: owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> [mailto:owner-discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org] On Behalf Of
> Karen Locke
> Sent: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 10:15 PM
> To: discuss-sudbury-model@sudval.org
> Subject: DSM: kicking kids out
>
>
> Our school is going through soul-searching about kids who
> seem not to be able to handle independence, having problems
> with hitting others, not following school rules, not changing
> their behavior. The kids we're dealling with are written up,
> go to RJC, and then do the same things or worse the next day.
> We've had several "good" kids leave the school because they
> were being harassed and beaten up.
>
> We would like to know how other schools deal with kids who
> may need to leave because of behavior. Is there a set
> policy? Have you ever kicked kids out? What steps are just
> short of that?
>
> We're meeting about this tomorrow at 3PM, so any help before
> that would be appreciated (after that too, on list or privately)
>
> Thanks,
>
> Karen Locke
> Village School of Northfield
>
>
>
>
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