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  • Writer's pictureVicky Keston

Counseled Out: My Child Must Leave Their School

What to do when your private school asks you to transfer your child out . . . . perhaps, there have been long standing behavioral issues; perhaps, your child has learning needs the school cannot meet. However you got here, you need a new school, whether for the next school year or immediately. 

What should you do besides panic? 


Gather Feedback 

Speak with the Current School. The most important step in this scenario, gathering information about your child’s needs. Speak with your child’s teacher to learn about any behavioral and learning issues, as well as your child’s strengths. Ask the teacher’s opinion on what type of environment and resources would be helpful to your child. Much as it may be difficult to hear this feedback, it will help you to (1) determine the best fit school for your child and (2) anticipate the teacher evaluation form submitted to prospective schools

Schedule an Assessment. Now is a great time to get an assessment from the experts. Depending on your child’s situation, this could be a neuropsychologist, developmental pediatrician, or occupational therapist. Your child’s pediatrician can help you to determine the best resource for your child’s situation. Cost-wise, you might get health insurance coverage, you might request the school district open an IEP to assess them, or you might pay out of pocket.

Speak With Your Child. Ask your child what frustrates them most about school, and what their dream school would be like. Starting the conversation will open up the possibility of moving schools and involve them in the process.


Best Landing Spots

Special Needs Schools. Some private schools are focused on students with specific learning profiles, for instance dyslexia or ADHD. At this type of school, your student could access resources, such as learning specialists to help catch up academically, socially, or on executive function skills. Some special needs schools are specifically open to students with prior behavioral issues and can work on improvement in a positive environment. 

Public Schools. Public schools must accept all students, and must offer (by law) IEPs and 504s for kids with special needs. For students with robust IEPs, the services can be better than private schools at no cost to parents. With the right IEP, the student receives support services at school in a constructive environment. If there is any question of the school district supporting the student’s IEP, a special education advocate can help. This type of professional understands the rights of students and families with special needs and can help you advocate for services. I often refer to outside professionals with experience in this capacity.

Consider Grade Level especially for 5th, 8th and 12th Grade. When possible, avoid transferring into the last grade level of the school, i.e. if the school is K-8, transferring into 8th grade means that they would need to start the process to apply to high school shortly after starting a new school. In this example, I usually recommend applying to 6th-12th grade schools so that the child has time to adjust to the new school before applying out, can reset behavior, and freshen any teacher evaluations to exclusively the new school.

Application Process

Seek Best Fit. Your child deserves a school that wants your child for who they are. The best fit school will work with your child’s learning and behavioral profile to optimize their school experience. The better the fit of the next school, the less likely to repeat a last minute transition.  

Public Schools: Request an IEP or 504. Remember to start the clock by requesting an IEP in writing. You can do this before transferring to public school. If your child is still enrolled in a private school, the public school’s special education assessor can observe them in the environment and speak to their current teachers. It is in your interest for the special education team to hear all issues at the current school as these will increase the likelihood of services in public school.

Private School Process. Email any school that meets your child’s learning and behavioral profile. Most special education private schools start the process by reviewing any assessments (see above for ideas), and if they feel your child could be a fit, they typically schedule onsite student days, anywhere from 1 to 3 days, for your child to experience the school and for their teachers to get to know your child. 


Role of a Consultant 

A consultant can help parents by reviewing your child’s needs and recommending potential schools. In addition, your consultant can help you apply to new schools, and then weigh the pros and cons of each school that accepts your student.

A consultant can also work with private schools to help place families who they’ve counseled to leave the school. 


Want more input on schools?

Vicky consults with families to help select, apply to, and communicate with public and private schools in the San Francisco Bay Area. Vicky maintains a principle of non-judgment. Hourly, VIP, and Season packages include a discussion to review school options, applications, essays, and key decisions. Vicky offers a limited number of packages each year to assure her availability. 

Vicky’s own children have attended both public and private schools, and have received both accommodations and curriculum changes; her elder is in high school, and her younger in middle school. New clients can email to learn more about her services, or see her website to learn about her packages.


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