The Law Office of Carolina T. Curbelo, LLC

Ridgewood Location:

45 North Broad Street, 1st Floor

Ridgewood, New Jersey 07450

West New York Location:

6700 Bergenline Avenue West

New York, NJ 07093

Tel. (201) 379-4040

Fax (201) 379-4777

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"They Want to Expel My Child!" Why Are So Many Students Acting Out and Threatened With Expulsion?



I love seeing patterns in my personal and professional life. As humans, we are a pattern-seeking species. We can laugh over some of the patterns our ancestors concluded: storks delivered babies; black cats were only chosen by witches; bad luck happened if you walked under a ladder or on a crack in the pavement; and women were far too emotional to be permitted to vote.


As a teacher, I found myself “discovering” patterns, some of which turned out to be valid, but others had to be discarded. I originally thought ADHD was a made-up diagnosis designed by parents who wanted to get more time for their children to take their SATS: WRONG. I analyzed my students to see what type of learner they were, and had them follow their default style of learning: CORRECT!


Now that I am retired from full-time teaching and working as a Special Education Attorney, I am using my pattern-seeking skills to figure out why so many of my (male) student clients are in trouble and at the brink of being expelled. I’m also searching for experts who can help me discard my wrong-headed conclusions, and point me in the direction of an enlightened understanding of the acting-out behavior of so many (male) teens.


I meet the parents of my clients and encourage them to bring their children. What I find is that they react to me with respect and are open to telling me their stories. What I readily find is that they are juggling social, emotional, and behavioral challenges that their schools can’t or don’t know how to handle. As a teacher, parent, and grandparent, I cannot stand to lose one of these children. I want to do everything I can to make sure the children do not wind up lost.


Why so many students in this category?


If they have already been assessed by a competent neuropsychiatrist, they are found to have behavioral challenges owing to developmental delays in the areas of:


  • Flexibility/adaptability

  • Frustration tolerance

  • Problem-solving.


They are not:


  • Bratty

  • Spoiled

  • Manipulative

  • Attention-seeking

  • Coercive

  • Limit-testing

  • Controlling

  • Unmotivated.


How many parents have heard these terms describing their children, and most probably disagree with them? And if parents agree with these terms, how might their feelings change if they saw their children diagnosed as having reading or math delays instead?


These kids are struggling with one or more unsolved problems, which, if discovered and dealt with, can resolve the sometimes explosive behavioral outcomes. And regardless of how many time-outs, detentions, expulsions, or placement in isolated rooms are handed out, nothing seems to change between student and school.


So what can you do?


Have you asked for a full evaluation by your school’s Child Study Team? Have you received a full report of any learning problems? Has this evaluation qualified your child for either a 504 list of accommodations or an IEP (Individual Education Plan)? Will they offer your child in-school help for any delays? Make sure your child has been evaluated by a competent neuropsychiatrist of your choosing, if you are not satisfied by the one assigned by the school.


How are they planning to deal with any behavior plans, and does the plan realize most behavioral outbursts are connected to delays as I described above?


If you need a further explanation of how to deal with your school’s handling of your child’s behavioral issues, call me directly at (201) 232-8816 and check the website of www.curbelolaw.com to learn more about our special education services, including sensible pricing and Spanish translations.