Can the school release my son from the pre-k program for having bowel movements in school?

"My son just turned 4 and we have started potty training. He has not mastered the art of having bowel movements in the potty. He started school this last Monday. I received a call from his teacher stating that if he continues to have the bowel movements in school then they would have to release him from the program. I don't really know if they can do that."

Asked by Rebecca via email.
In Topics: Kindergarten readiness, Working with my child's teacher(s), Physical Health
> 60 days ago



Wayne Yankus
Aug 22, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Yes, depending on the state.  Licensed child care or pre k centers may or may not be in a position to handle stool, change diapers or dispose of them under certain OSHA government laws.  For example, my pediatric office refuse collector refuses to take diapers and therefore we provide bags for parents to take soiled diapers home.  It also depends if the staff has been protected with hepatitis B vaccine and if they have the required cleaners and surfaces for changing.  Most schools feel if your child is over three, they should be trained. Many typical child hood viruses are shed in stool and urine for sometimes weeks after the illness; therefore for the health and safety of the class and teachers, most will call the parent to get their child. Certainly with illness sometimes accidents happen, but check your school policy and speak with the director.

Wayne Yankus, MD, FAAP
expert panelist: pediatrics

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Additional Answers (1)

prekpages writes:
Yes, if a child is not fully potty trained he can be removed from a preschool program.  Most private preschools/childcare centers require 4 year olds in the US to be fully potty trained.  Both Head Start and public pre-kindergarten programs for 4 year olds also require full potty training.  As a veteran ESL pre-k teacher for almost 20 years I have encountered many children who were not fully potty trained at 4 years of age for a variety of reasons.  I always recommend the following resources to parents when it comes to potty training:
Once Upon a Potty DVD
Elmo's Potty Time DVD
Both of these are usually available at the local library free of charge.  They should also have a selection of potty training books.   Don't be afraid to ask the children's reference librarian for help finding potty training resources.  After the child has been potty trained he can usually be re-admitted into the program.  

The reasons for not allowing un-trained children into 4 year old preschool is due to state staffing and health code laws.  Most 4 year old programs have a much larger teacher to child ratio than 3 or 2 year old programs.  When you have one teacher alone with 12-22 four year olds she cannot possibly change diapers and still watch and teach the other children- it isn't safe.  4 year old classrooms are also not set up with changing tables and don't always have running water, which is a health department requirement for any classroom where teachers change diapers.  

In the US, the culture of potty training is the earlier the better- due in part to the large number of children who attend child care.  However, in many other countries the philosophy is whenever the child is ready.  This difference can often cause problems when it comes to preschool and childcare in the US.
> 60 days ago

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