Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Teves 5762 - December 19, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Throwing Children Out of School

by R' Zvi Zobin

Rochel is five years old; an intelligent, spirited child. She was not one of the best in the class but she was not the worst. She was the only girl in the class from a certain background.

Some months ago, a group of girls in her class began tormenting her about being different, taunting her during recess and at every opportunity. One day, the ringleader kept teasing her during class, pulling faces and mouthing insults.

Eventually, Rochel lost her temper and, in the middle of the lesson, got up to hit the girl. The teacher, who had not seen the teasing, screamed at Rochel. Rochel ran to the board in rage, scribbled on it, then took the teacher's diary and scribbled on that. The teacher became furious and told Rochel that she had to go to the principal. Like the other children in the school, Rochel was very scared of the principal and in a panic, she ran out of the class and held the door shut so that the teacher was unable to go out.

After a few minutes, she went back inside the class and the teacher grabbed her. Trying to release herself, Rochel grabbed the teacher's hand and tried to pull it off her, but in doing so, she hurt it.

Eventually, Rochel calmed down and the teacher reported what had happened to the principal. The principal called in Rochel's father and told him that Rochel was being expelled from the school now and that at the end of the year, he would be expelling the group of three girls who had been teasing Rochel.


This incident, whose details have been changed to preserve anonymity, took place recently. It raises several important issues.

First, what should be the guidelines which justify expelling a child from school?

Expelling a child from school is a traumatic experience for a child and can leave permanent scars. Often, other schools in the area refuse to take a child who has been expelled because they do not want to take on any problems, because they fear parents will object and because they fear it will damage the school's reputation of being a `top' school. The result is that in many cases, the child is left without a school.

Second, what recourse does a parent have to the decision of the principal of a school expelling a child? There is no established "court of appeal" and a principal does not necessarily feel subordinate to the opinion of a local rov.

The first question was posed to a panel of Gedolei Torah at the 1997 Annual Torah Umesorah Teachers' Convention.

Their response was that except for very exceptional circumstances, a school or yeshiva is not allowed to expel a child. If the school is justified in expelling the child, then the school itself must help the parents find an alternative place for the child to attend.

The gedolim explained that the only justifications for requiring a child to leave a school are either 1) if a child is totally beyond control and badly influencing and disrupting others or 2) if a child is so learning-disabled that the school cannot help him/her and that there is an alternative institution which is better equipped to do so.

Conditions 1) and 2) include meeting with the parents and trying to enlist their help and trying whatever is possible to help the child.

Perhaps readers can help with advice as to how to deal with the second question.


FEEDBACK on Rabbi Zobin's last article regarding proper reading. One reader noted a common mistake that borders on the ridiculous: In Sholom Aleichim it is very popular to sing "Mimelech Mal-achei Hamelochim" which would denote that Hashem is the King of angel-kings, rather than "Malchei Hamelochim", King of kings.


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