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How I Handled...

A Parent Request to
Retain Her Child


A mother has requested that her daughter -- with an IEP for a rather mild disability in reading -- be allowed to repeat third grade at this, her new school. Learn how one of our Principal Problem Solvers handled this unique request.

The Problem:

New to the community, a very assertive mother came into school to request that her daughter -- who has an IEP for a rather mild disability in reading -- be allowed to repeat third grade at this, her new school. The students' grades aren't that low; neither are her test scores. The mother insists that her daughter wants to repeat the grade because school is getting too hard. She says the move to a new school is the perfect time to retain her. We rarely retain students at our school.

The Solution:

I met with the mother. Together we developed a list of pros and cons -- from her point of view and from mine. Then I met with the girl; a special education resource teacher with a great knack with kids also met with her. We helped the student develop a list of pros and cons for repeating third grade. Then I talked privately with the resource teacher. We decided that the daughter and mother had clear ideas of the impact of the decision to repeat third grade; the girl honestly seemed to want to do it and was comfortable with the potential negatives of such a decision. We went ahead and assigned her to a third-grade classroom.

The Reflection:

Only the classroom teacher, the resource teacher, the mom, the girl, and I are aware that this student is repeating third grade and, so far, she appears to be extremely happy. I talk with her frequently and she is bubbling with enthusiasm about our school, her new friends, and her third grade class. Her teacher, an experienced grade 3-4 looping teacher, told me she believes third grade was an excellent placement for this girl, and I trust her judgment. We will continue to monitor the placement as the year progresses.

About the How I Handled... Team of Principal Problem Solvers
The How I Handled... series is intended to be practical resource for all principals and principals-to-be. Each week, members of Education World's How I Handled team share how they solved actual problems relating to school leadership, parent involvement, professional development, and a host of other "principal" responsibilities. Six principals comprise our How I Handled team; two of them are elementary school principals, two work at the middle level, and two are high school principals. Team members remain anonymous; in that way, they can share freely the range of issues/problems they are called on to solve each day.