School records show that the boy was suspended for a day after throwing a kicking-and-hitting tantrum. His mother met with school staff members to devise a behavior-management plan for the child.
A few days after returning to school, he ran into trouble again— curling up on the floor, wetting himself accidentally and throwing another tantrum. Records show that the episode began in a classroom, where he scratched a child, and ended hours later in the principal’s office, where he threw objects, punched, spit and screamed.
Over the summer, the child had been found to have an adjustment disorder related to the stress and instability of living in poverty, his mother said in interviews with The Post, a diagnosis she divulged to school officials after the second tantrum. The Post is not identifying the family to protect the young boy.
“Our appeal to them was to basically not make this another school’s problem, and get the student some help within this system,” said the family’s attorney, Timothy Riveria of Advocates for Justice and Education.
The principal expelled the boy, and a panel of KIPP DC administrators upheld that recommendation, according to school records. The boy then enrolled at Payne Elementary in Southeast, the school closest to the homeless shelter where he lived. He attended that school until the family moved to Florida in late November.
KIPP DC’s chief executive, Susan Schaeffler, declined to comment on the case because of privacy concerns. She said it is extremely rare for the charter network to expel an elementary-school child, with an elementary expulsion rate last year of one-tenth of one percent.
“When expulsions occur, it’s safe to assume that’s a serious incident that we had to take action on because it was endangering the lives of other students or the student themselves,” Schaeffler said. “The parents are expecting us to do that, and that’s what we need to do.”
Kenya King, a parent of four current KIPP DC students and one alumna, now at Penn State University, agreed. “As a parent, when I send my children to school, when I walk off and I wave goodbye and I hug them and I look back at them, I want to know that my child is safe,” she said.
KIPP DC College Prep, a high school, expelled 17 students last year — or 5 percent of its enrollment, the second-highest expulsion rate in the city. The school tweaked its discipline policy in response and started meeting weekly with students to discuss behavior and celebrate successes. College Prep has expelled no students so far this year.
It’s not clear how many students expelled from charter schools then enroll in traditional D.C. schools in the middle of the year; school system officials said they could not provide that information. D.C. officials said they track only expulsions that they are required to report to the federal government, which include those due to violence, weapons, alcohol or drugs.