12-Year-Old Boy Expelled from School for Fulfilling Dying Grandpa's Last Wish

holding hands grandpaA 12-year-old boy considered to be a good student by his teachers is being expelled from his school for a heartbreaking reason: Josh Palfrey of Walsall, England, left school for six weeks to make his grandfather's dying wish come true -- to spend his final days in the company of his grandson -- but school administrators say his absence was too excessive, no matter the reason. 

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Josh's dad, Scott, says he was warned that his son would be expelled if he took him out for more than 20 days, but he hoped this school would be understanding about the situation. Scott's father, a war veteran who moved from England to the US in 1989, wanted nothing more than to see his grandson one last time -- so Scott made the difficult decision to risk expulsion by taking Josh to Alaska.

Scott has been reported as saying: 

I understand it is not ideal to take your child out of school for this amount of time, but this was an exceptional circumstance. This was hardly a quick flight to Spain or a holiday to Disney World. It's the other side of the world and we did not know how long my dad had left. This was my father's dying wish and to see my son sitting with his grandfather and learning about his life was just priceless.

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Scott said he feels he made the right decision, but he's "furious" with how the school has responded: 

My son is now very upset as he loves the school and has friends there. He lives two minutes from the school, he is doing well. In my mind, he's a star pupil. Teachers have told me they wished they had more like him.

The school, for its part, explained in a statement that due to overcrowding, they simply couldn't make an exception to its attendance policy for Josh. The statement reads: 

We have nearly 500 children on our waiting lists for all years, all lovely children with caring parents who want the best for their child.

When a child leaves we do not re-admit them or fill their place with another child as the school is so very full. We operate a fair and transparent admissions policy which follows the very clear laws which govern schools.

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From a purely objective standpoint, I kind of see where the school is coming from -- plenty of families probably have lots of equally compelling and valid reasons for pulling their kids out of school, and with an extensive waiting list, the school probably feels like it has to draw the line somewhere.

But as a parent (and just plain human), I feel like this is a case where a little compassion could go a long way. I mean, this was the poor old man's dying wish -- how could Scott even consider saying no? Certainly the school's administration is capable of discerning which requests for extended leaves are exceptionally worthy of consideration. Rules are rules, sure, but isn't it the job of those in power to interpret those rules in a way that benefits individuals on a case-by-case basis? After all, as the current state of the world would suggest, blind adherence to policy doesn't seem to benefit anyone in the long run.

Hopefully, the school will reconsider its decision to expel Josh, but even if it doesn't, I still think Scott made the right call in taking his son to see his dad. Nowadays, with families spread so far apart, too many kids don't know their grandparents at all. Those six weeks are irreplaceable, and the memories made will stay with Josh for the rest of his life. What he learned from his grandfather are the kinds of things you can't learn in any school.

 

Image via iStock.com/Squaredpixels

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