ST. PETERS--A nine-year-old child has returned to school after an attempt to expel him from Hillside Christian Schools Asha Stevens Campus.
After a line-up of warnings by the school on the child and his brother, and a meeting with Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs (ECSY) Inspection Division Truancy Officers, a Court of Guardianship (CoG) representative and the child’s parents, the Hillside Christian Schools board arranged for the child to be enrolled in its Helmich Snijders Campus.
Switching the child to a school with Dutch as the language of instruction was not a preferred solution, but the school board made the decision after the meeting on the urgent case and a subsequent notification that the board would be solely responsible for enrolling him in another school. Because the sister campus falls under the same school board, the board could organise the switch itself.
The parents could not be reached up to press time, but the child is said by school management to be settling in well at the new school so far. His parents have met with the principal and Student Care Coordinator to meet the staff in person and be introduced to the school and its regulations.
Student Care also was informed about the case prior to the switch, said General Director Asha Stevens in an invited comment.
The two brothers fought constantly and the school has long recommended that the two be separated, which reportedly was agreed on by the CoG representative at the meeting. The younger brother also is said to be doing relatively well.
The child has had homework sent to him in the time between deciding what had to be done and the process of switching to the new school, which took about three weeks. He had been suspended and it was decided amongst the relevant stakeholders that he should stay home until a final decision was made.
Educational reports, needed for when pupils will be enrolled at new schools, were drafted for both boys in the days following the initial meeting. At the meeting as well as before, the frustrated parents claimed that the school had been picking on their children for a long time and reportedly said they might take both boys away.
The CoG representative was said to have shown determination in working with the case.
Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth Affairs (ECSY) Inspectorate head Chantal Schaminee told The Daily Herald in an invited comment on Tuesday that primary schools that wish to expel a pupil must first make sure said pupil is accepted into another school. This is to secure compulsory education and is stated in article 20 of the National Ordinance on Foundation-Based Education (FBE).
She said the Inspectorate played a role in the process and kept in close contact with the school. The Education Department monitors the process, but is not mandated to find another school, this being the responsibility of the school itself.
In these situations it is up to the parents, not the Education Department, to accept the decision and if they do not agree with the choice for any reason, they must join the school board’s efforts in finding another placement. Public schools should accept expelled pupils, unless full.
Schaminee refrained from comment on the issue of the child having compulsory sessions with a psychologist, as it pertained to the child’s emotional wellbeing.
Hillside Christian Schools tried to expel the child in early November after an incident in which the child had a violent outburst, posing a danger to both other pupils and himself. The incident followed an earlier suspension, also related to aggressive behaviour, for which the school demanded that the parents seek psychological evaluation and counselling. This was not adhered to, with the exception of an eventual couple of sessions. There had been a long and documented line of complaints about the children’s disruptive behaviour.
The parents, very upset by the situation, had called this newspaper to report the expulsion. They said they knew the child was “no angel,” but that it was wrong to kick out a nine-year-old and it would mean no other school would want to take him. They had been surprised at the school’s move to expel him and said it was not allowed because of compulsory education.