Four-year-old Jalyn Carter-Simmons isn't spending his morning learning in his pre-school classroom.
The Kansas City School District has kicked him out of preschool. His grandmother is outraged and maintains that the district has failed to follow proper procedures before taking such a drastic measure.
Still every day since Dec. 11, the telephone rings at his home. The school district's automated system intones, "This is a message from the attendance office at Satchel Paige Elementary calling to inform you that your student, Jalyn Carter-Simmons, was absent today."
Cecile Simmons and her husband are raising their grandson and have legal custody of him.
Jalyn started pre-K in the fall, but has been involved in some scraps at school.
"A parent has complained that they're going to sue the district if we don't remove Jalyn from the classroom because he's hitting. But four year olds hit and play," Simmons said Wednesday. "Him and two little boys are always hitting and getting into it."
The teacher in writing cited Jalyn's bullying of another student and occasional unruly behavior.
Simmons said she tried to get more information from the school district in an attempt to keep him in class, but was thwarted at every turn.
"I was told you can take him to Swope Parkway Behavioral Health for an assessment. I said, 'No,' because you never did the classroom observation yet. You have special and exceptional ed for that reason. Jalyn should not have to be taken anywhere," she declared.
She said she wants to work with the district, but her attempts are falling on deaf ears.
"If he did need to be in a different setting then we're willing to do that," she said. "But give us something back. Give us some documentation other than verbal communication or a phone call."
The district sent the following statement regarding safety policies and procedures in pre-K program after the story originally aired:
All Kansas City Public Schools’ students have a right to privacy and KCPS cannot speak to any specific situation involving a student. However, Kansas City Public Schools does not expel students from our early childhood education program. KCPS’s top priority is always the safety and security of all students and staff. Anytime a child in our pre-K program presents a safety issue to himself/herself, other children or staff, parents or guardians are asked to keep the child home until a conference can be held with the teachers, administration and parents/guardians to review the situation. When the situation warrants it, KCPS seeks permission to obtain a behavioral assessment for the child. The goal in these types of cases is to develop strategies that will allow the child to remain in the classroom, yet keep the child, the other children and staff safe.
District officials said they couldn't discuss Jalyn's specific case due to privacy concerns.
Cecile and Eric Simmons say the little boy repeatedly asks them every day when he can go back to school.
"This is not a good environment in the daytime for him," Cecile Simmons said. "He gets lonesome. He wants to be in school."
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