Help-son's school imploding-boarding school alternatives?

Sorry for the too-long post. Short version: we might need a boarding school for my smart son who is going into the 11th grade this fall. Is there any hope of finding a really good US school that will take him at this late date?

Long version:

With very heavy heart I write that my son’s wonderful school in Jakarta is at the heart of a sexual abuse of a child(ren) case. (We are American expats.)

The story is complicated and still unfolding. I trust the school administration and teachers more than I can possibly say (the abuse was perpetrated by outsourced cleaning staff, and the school reported it/helped ID and catch the perps as soon as it came to light). But the kindergarten has already been closed by the Ministry of Education (for fall - at least they are letting current enrollees finish the year). The story is as complex and subtext-filled as “Bonfire of the Vanities” but a lot more tragic.

So, what are we going to do? It’s April. Our son is finishing 10th grade and had just chosen his coursework (mixed IB/AP courses with a very strong focus on physics, computer science, and math) for the fall. We had planned our lives and work around ensuring he graduated from this school, which offers unparalleled access to fine teachers, first-rate facilities, and challenging coursework.

If his school is forced to close, or is so badly tarnished that his education over the next couple of years will be adversely affected, we need alternatives. There are none in Jakarta (there is one other really good school for expatriates, but for various reasons I don’t think it is a good choice, besides which it is already over-enrolled and won’t have space for any kids streaming out of my son’s school).

Would any reputable boarding school even have a slot for him this fall (if they take into consideration what has happened and why we are applying so late)? I want him to go to a really good college prep school. He’s very intelligent (he took the PSATs and got an 80 in math and writing and a 64 in critical reading - and that’s a year before he was “supposed” to take PSATs) and that should help. He’s participated in CTY every year since the summer after 5th grade, and this summer is taking a course on special relativity. His dream is to attend MIT and while of course he may not get in, for him it is a realistic goal to strive for.

On the not-so-plus side, he’s not athletic at all, and he isn’t social; he’s got his MtG friends and a wonderful long-distance girlfriend, but he is completely indifferent to “fitting in” with his more typical classmates. His invulnerability to peer pressure is great, but almost TOO great.

I know we will get through this, but I am very worried.

I went to a New England prep school myself but it was a “day school.” I’m aware of schools like Exeter, Choate, Northfield Mount Herman, etc., but worried that (a) they will not have a place for him; and/or (b) he would be eaten alive, socially, at such places. His experience as an expat child is not exactly an “A Separate Peace” sort of life. A school with lots of other children whose parents are working abroad would be good.

Thoughts or recommendations? For the moment assume money is no object - we will deal with that problem later.

Note that I do not blame the school - they may have made so-far-unproven practical errors that contributed to creating a physical/logistical layout where abuse was possible. But they are NOT engaging in a cover-up, they are NOT a bunch of pedophiles, and the sickening rumors that are circulating are nothing but McMartin-style lies.

Because it is a “snobby rich kid” school in a country where the media and the government can be corrupt/unsophisticated (plus presidential elections are coming, so posturing against outsiders could well appeal to some), it is very vulnerable. The truth may matter a lot less than the satisfaction taken by the ignorant and resentful when they are able to bring the school down.

I wish I could “wait and see” if the school survives this. But 11th grade is right around the corner.

I would just start Googling “Boarding Schools” and see what you can find. The only one I know of is Wentworth Military Academy here in Missouri which I read is a pretty good school.

These schools are almost always desperate for students so I’d go ahead and drop their admissions office an email. I bet they could help you out.

Another idea is to ask around with any relatives or close friends who have a spare room and your kid can attend any public school in which that said relative resides. I’ve heard of other kids going to school where say their aunt or uncle live. Much cheaper than boarding school.
Good luck.

It’s very, very late for competitive places. They may be sympathetic as hell, but if the beds are full, there really isn’t anywhere to put him, and while they may have a waitlist, bumping some other kid down that list is also problematic. A couple things to think about: how important is graduating on time? That’s a sincere question, and really depends on the kid. Coming up with some alternative activity–be it studying abroad (ironic, I know), an independent research project, community service, a job, a language immersion experience–won’t hurt his college prospects and might be very good for him. (In fact, for a highly competitive school, they would be an advantage). If you can come up with the right thing, I think it would be better than spending a year at a school that is a poor match. But only you know your kid. There might also be some distance learning programs that could bridge the gap, if he’s a self-starter–but, again, I tend to feel like education should be done well or not at all, and better to delay a year than treat it casually. There might be some issues with PSAT and National Merit, but that’s really just a short-hand: even if he can’t qualify for National Merit, if his SAT scores are in the same range, it will be fine.

I would not, under any circumstances, send a brilliant, socially awkward, non-athletic boy to a boarding school that isn’t at least somewhat competitive. Rather, I wouldn’t send such a boy to a school that is 50% behavior problems that just needed to be sent somewhere, anywhere that would take them. That sounds like a terrible situation, especially if your mom is 3000 miles away.

Have you considered Australian/New Zealand boarding schools? IB is very familiar in Australia and it’s much more convenient to Jakarta. Downside is that the school year is out of sync so he may have to either repeat half of year 10 starting in June or start year 11 in February.

Don’t you have any relatives in areas with good public schools?

Having gone to very reputable boarding school myself, I would say yes, I saw many boarding students came in at 11th grade and overall they integrated well. 12th grade is generally considered too late, but not 11th. At my school I’d say about a third of the boarders started at 10th grade, just because their home/international system ended middle school or the equivalent after 9th grade, or because they went to some other school for their first year of US high school and that’s when the family figured out it wasn’t working.

Now of course it will depend on space availability, and admissions standards of the school, and my general impression is that schools have become more competitive since I was in high school just because there are more students applying now. But as for 11th grade being too late? I wouldn’t worry about that yet. I’m sure that some schools have that rule but I can’t imagine it’s universal. Even if they say on their website that they don’t generally do this, at this point I would say to ask anyhow. Your kid has a reasonable story (ie, he’s not a problem student who got expelled), if they happen to have an opening they’ll take your application.

I don’t think the issue is 11th grade: I think the issue is that it is almost May and admissions decisions are usually made by mid-April and application deadlines are much earlier than that.

I was going to make the same suggestion. My niece is at boarding school here in NSW and quite a number of the girls in her year are Americans from ex-pat families based in SE Asia.

Is your son at a point where he could pass a GED test? If so you might consider having him get his GED and finding a university or CC where he could start in the fall or next spring if he wanted to take some time off first.

Yes, and then students decline offers of admission, and they get to the end of their wait list, and then they have space. Or someone drops out in June and they have a space. Or they did not accept as many students in the first place as they physically have beds for, and never closed off applications in the first place.

I know for a fact that my school did accept boarding students into the summer for that coming September. In theory there was a deadline but after that it was rolling admissions. They weren’t giving out financial aid at that point, but they were taking applications.

You are in luck being involved with IB. If you can get ahold of them, IB staff is very clues in to what’s going on in that realm, and they may just know of a place with an opening.

Call the IB regional office-- either Asia or North America. You want to speak to someone in the regional outreach department. Try to get a specific name off the website. Mention the scandal, but otherwise approach it as a personal favor. Ask them if they happen to know of any schools that can work with you.

I’d focus on international schools, and not necessarily in the US - Shalmanese mentioned Australia and New Zealand, there’s also Britain and Ireland, and practically every major European city has at least one international school… For one thing, international schools tend to have the IB. For another, they have much higher student turnover - meaning not only are they more likely to have a place for your son, but he’s not going to arrive there and be the lone outsider among a class who’ve known each other for years.

IB is the International Bac?

Yes. It’s not as common as AP programs but available in many schools here. My daughter is doing the IB program at our (public) HS.

Thanks everyone for the ideas - some really good ones in there.

We have a few relatives in the US, but none that we would want to impose on for taking our son. That’s a huge amount to ask of anyone. However, my sister-in-law is a teacher at a good private school in Ohio (not a boarding school); I might consider moving nearby with our son. It would screw up my job but probably not totally; I could probably set up a telecommuting arrangement.

I also think the idea of giving him a “gap year” is excellent. That might be a great solution.

Oz/NZ are also good ideas. Actually he has a friend in each country that he knew when they were in Jakarta, and later the boys returned to their home countries to go to good boarding schools. So that’s definitely something we could look at - I hadn’t thought of that.

Anyway, keep those ideas coming. What a mess. We’ll see what happens next …

You might look into the United World Colleges (boarding, IB, college prep) and see what might be available there.

There are some UWC schools that accept direct applications. Others admit only through a national committee system. You could nose around on their web site and make some inquiries. I know they will work with folks with special circumstances in extreme cases, but I don’t have a very good sense of what their threshold for “extreme” is.

ETA: I think this would be a good choice for an expat kid; the schools are very intentionally international.

Have you spoken to the teachers or administrators at your child’s current school? This is where networking would come in very handy. Most of them have worked at other schools of similar caliber, and most of their colleagues are aware of what’s happened at their school. If your son has a staff or faculty member who’s taken an interest in him, they may be able to champion him.

Sounds like a nasty situation; sorry.

I agree with the notion of looking into schools outside the US. Partly because of application deadlines, partly because of the more in-and-out nature of the student body.

That being said, I am a little surprised to see the characterization of American boarding schools in this thread as either highly competitive academically and socially or full of kids who are major, major trouble. I agree that the OP’s son would be well advised to steer clear of both those stereotypes. But there are others. My son got a terrific education as a day student at a school that was probably about 25% boarding; he graduated about six years ago, got into a well known and well respected college, and is doing very well for himself now. I don’t know for sure, but I doubt they are full right now for 2014-15; and while no one would think of them as equivalent to a Choate or Exeter they did very good work with my kid.

Not saying this or a similar school would be ideal for the OP’s son. They didn’t do IB, science was not as strong as the humanities; OTOH the place was very tolerant and did quite well with quirky kids, and there was no sense of social wrangling. But if you want to know more about it, OP, feel free to PM me; and I suspect there are a number of other schools in the US that would occupy a similar sort of middle ground between the extremes of filled-and-vicious and half-juvenile-delinquents. Just my two cents. Good luck.

I’m intrigued and shall PM you!

As an update to the thread in general, we’ve talked to my sister-in-law about her school and she said that his attendance could be arranged for this fall, and she very kindly offered to take our son in. I wouldn’t place that burden on her, but it does make me feel better.

I’m also starting to feel a faint hope that the school will survive this; there have not been additional revelations in the pst 24-48 hours, at least, and the fact that it doesn’t seem to be hitting the international press yet is a good sign. So, fingers crossed. Now, off to write Ulf…

You can pay your sister-in-law for taking him in–say the same amount as room and board would cost at boarding school.