What If They Won't Have Your Child Back?

Updated May 26, 2016 |
What If They Won't Have Your Child Back?
It's spring. You receive a letter from the school advising you that it will not be renewing its contract with you for next year. How can this happen? We offer some answers.
I can just hear you saying "He's got to be kidding. After spending inordinate amounts of my valuable time and resources getting my child into private school, the school can decide it doesn't want her back next year?"

Yes, the school can do that. Sad. But true. Read the contract which you signed with the school when your daughter was first accepted. It very clearly spells out the rights each party to the contract has. And one of those is that the school does not have to automatically renew its contract with you. The contract has a finite term. Usually for one academic year.

How do you avoid the school sending a non-renewal notice? You make sure that the following are in order:

1. Acceptable academic progress
While it would be nice if your child could be first in every subject she takes, that is asking a bit too much. But you definitely want to keep her in the top third. If the school recommends extra help or even tutoring, don't fight that recommendation. Calculus may have been a breeze for you. But if she is struggling with it, be ahead of the curve. Accept the help offered.

All they really want is to see are her best efforts and maximum cooperation in achieving good results. There's a larger lesson that the school is trying to teach here as well. And that is to not flinch at life's challenges. Life is full of seemingly impossible challenges and situations. Learning how to cope with these as a young person is part of the character building in which any private school worth its salt is engaging.

2. Acceptable behavior
Everybody makes mistakes. But in the private school environment there is precious little, if any tolerance for the biggies such as sex, fighting and substance abuse. Put another way, if your daughter is caught smoking pot or taking a swig of vodka, the school will take action. Serious action. Expulsion is likely. That means non-renewal is a given.

Behavior issues often have their root in larger family issues such as divorce, the death of a parent or sibling and so on. Once more, try to be proactive and respond to any warning signals and signs before the situation gets out of hand. In other words, get your child the professional help she deserves before she self-destructs.

3. Cooperation with the school
This last reason for potential non-renewal is all about us parents. If you and I get a reputation with the school as a 'difficult' parent, we shouldn't be surprised if the school decides not to ask our children back. Remember: the basis for a private school education is the cooperation between the three partners - school, parent and child.

This is the most important reason why you must take time to visit the campus, observe classes and ask lots of questions before making the huge commitment of sending your child to private school. Be absolutely certain that you are in agreement with the school's philosophy and goals. Read the handbook carefully. Understand what is both explicit and implicit in that document. You and your child will be expected to abide by it. The old adage "Better to be safe than sorry" applies.

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