A six year old child came home from Drummond Memorial Public School yesterday with a folded up letter in their school bag saying they were going to be expelled.
As the child is in out of home care, many details about this story cannot be reported to protect the child. However, the child’s carer is a respected member of the local Aboriginal community, and is very concerned other parents may have received similar letters.
The vague form letter, provided to The New England Times, was riddled with errors including the phone number for the school, which the letter demanded the carers call ‘as soon as possible’, being incorrect.
The letter begins: ‘This is to inform you of my concern that your [child] is at this time.’
Is what, at this time, we do not know because they did not fill in that part of the form letter.
‘Should this continue, steps may be taken to expel [child] from this school according to the Procedures of the Department of Education and Training for the Suspension and Expulsion from a particular School.’
What, exactly, may be continuing is not clear. The only reasons given are as follows: ‘The reasons for this are persistent disruption to the learning of other students and refusal to follow staff instructions.’
“[The child] is 6. How can a teacher not manage the behaviour of a 6 year old?,” the carer said.
The carer received a message from the relieving Principal Aidan Williams, who signed the expulsion threat, stating that the letter is a pre-suspension letter.
“My response was that the word EXPEL is used clearly.”
“I’m an educated woman, I took it to mean [the child] was being threatened by expulsion.”
“Imagine how another parent with limitations on their cognitive function would interpret that letter,” the carer said.
“This is why we have so many First Nation mob disengaged. Parents are receiving letters such as this that they don’t understand and their interpretation is that their child is expelled.”
The Department of Education was asked if it was normal practice to expel six year olds from school, but did not respond by deadline.
Update 5.20pm: The NSW Department of Education has provided this response:
“At no point has the child or carers been threatened with the student’s expulsion.”
“The school is in constant contact with the carers/guardians of the Kindergarten student in question and is working closely with them on strategies to support their education.”
Update September 13: The actual principal of the school has contacted the carers and apologised, assuring them she would never expel a child from kindergarten.
Top image is a stock image for illustrative purposes only.