So, uh... should I have been kicked out of school?

Back when I was in high school, my mom, a single mother, died suddenly. I was 18, and just about to start my senior year.

My father was a no-show most of my life, so I moved to Austin to live with my aunt and uncle. Now, I’m NOT religious. I’ve been a self-decided atheist for most of my life. My aunt and uncle, though, are VERY religious. Part of the rules for me living there was that I should go to church with them every Sunday. I started my senior year at a completely new school, and started making all new friends.

Immediately, though, we started having problems. Here I was 18, and an atheist- and their oldest child was 8 at the time. Within a few months, I decided that I really would be much happier living on my own.

My mother had worked at NASA for, oh, 17 years. They had set up a trust fund for me- as long as I was unmarried, under 23, and in school, I got $180 a month. This money was going to my aunt and uncle, to help with the bills I helped run up. I figured I could use that money, get a part-time job, get a cheap apartment, and still stay in school- after all, I had less than a year to go at that point. So I told my family that I was looking for a new place to live…

Big mistake. I got called into the principal’s office on Monday. It seems that he goes to the same church, and my aunt and uncle had told him that I intended to live on my own. He told me that it was against school policy for students to live on their own, and as such, if I was going to move out of my relative’s house, I’d be kicked out of school.

I reminded him that I was 18- a legal adult. I even signed my own report card and permission slips!

He didn’t care, though, and sent me on my merry way.

I figured “to hell with this”, and started looking to get my GED, with the intention of going on to college. My aunt and uncle, of course, made sure that NASA found out that I was no longer in school- so that extra money got cut. As a result, I had to get a full-time job- which meant that college basically never happened for me. I got my GED a few years later.

Anyway, my question is: IS it legal for the principal to have kicked me out of school, simply because I was going to be living on my own? I’ve never understood this; don’t schools typically WANT to keep students in school?

I’ve often wondered what my life would’ve been like if I’d been able to finish high school and go directly on to college.

Very strange. I lived on my own when I was 18 and a senior in high school.

You knew the rules of the trust and you took a chance and you lost. You’re not a victim, just a bad gambler. I don’t think 180. a month would have been the make or break for college for you anyway, as 2,000 a year isn’t going to get you much in the way of room, board, tuition etc.

As to legalities it really depends on what the policy is for that particular school district at the time. Texas is noted for allowing local law enforcement administrators at all levels, a lot of leeway in decision making. If that attitude is present across the board a lot of authority might be granted to Principals as well.

It’s water under the bridge. You are a grown man and more than intelligent enough to pursue a degree at this time if you really want to do so. Go for it.

Um, Astro? I’m not claiming to be a victim- and I don’t think I was gambling. Losing the trust was simply a result of getting kicked out of school. I didn’t actively try to keep it at that point- I got fed up with the hypocrisy of the educational system by then. I also assumed that the “no student may live on their own” rule was pretty standard- it’s actually only until recently that I found out it’s not. :slight_smile:

And back then, in 1987, $180 a month really was the deal breaker for living on my own on part-time wages- my first apartment was $250 and all-bills-paid.

I’ve often thought of going to college- but the industry I’m in really doesn’t place a high priority on education rather than talent. If I went to school at this point, it’d be for fun, rather than future job prospects. Thanks, though.

Have to agree with everyone else. If you broke an establishe rule, you have to suffer the consequences.

No offense, but your aunt and uncle suck.

You did not mention in your post whether you attended private or public school.

If it was a private school, then yes, they had every right to kick you out for whatever reason they wanted. I’ve seen students kicked out of private high schools because they said they didn’t want to go to college, and the school did not want its percentage of students going on to college to drop.

If you went to public school, it’s a little trickier. Was your apartment in the attendence zone for that school? If not, then they again had every right to ask you to leave. However, if your apartment was in the zone for that school, they still might have had some excuse to fall back on, like the law not REQUIRING that the school educate you past the age of 18, or because you would be an emancipated minor.

And while I don’t know what the law in your area was at the time, up until the last 20 years or so, school administrators at every level have traditionally been given pretty broad authority to make academic decisions based on students’ personal lives.

If it was a public school, what the principal did was totally illegal (IANAL). If it was a private school, I don’t know.

I have never heard of a principal being referred to as a 'law enforcement administrators."

What the fuck do they have to do with law enforcement? They have their hands full running the damn school, it would seem to me.

Then again, Texas has also been a bit fucked up.

I’d be concerned about the “goes to the same church” and how that got into the bit about eligibility to attend (if it’s a public school). Now, there might be a case on the school’s side if you’re going to be moving out of their district, but other than that, I don’t get how it can be legal.

I left my parents house when I was 17 and moved to another state with my band. I was in my senior year. I got a legal document, I forget what it was called, so that I was declared an adult and my parents wouldn’t be liable for my actions. I finished my last year without any school issues except for the fact the administration didn’t like it when I signed myself out of school.

I would find it very hard to believe that it would be legal to kick an 18 year old senior out of public school based on who that person lived with. The only reason I can think of that might make a difference is that schools are somewhat responsible for their students actions. (I want to say that schools have ‘In Loco Parentis’ responsiblities but that reads to me as ‘The crazy parent’. At the same time I am too lazy to google on it. I do know there is some legal issue involved but I suck at Latin…and Spanish and French…basically everything but English)

At the same time I believe that you could have taken the trust issue to court and won. The reason being that you were kicked out of school against your choice. Then again IANAL.

But, in the long run, you should probably just drop the issue. It sounds like you have a good life and job.

Good luck,


“In loco parentis” means “In the place of the parents.” It’s a Latin phrase but a widespread legal philosophy that some people (college faculty to pick an example) can act in the place of parents in some decisions related to their charges. It’s basically saying that the actual parents are not present, but the charges are too young to look after themselves (too young to have full legal responsibility over themselves, in other words) so someone has to have the level of responsibility parents would normally assume.

sleestak: My guess is the document you got is called an emancipation order; in other words, you’re “an emancipated adult.”

I’m with the others who believe there’s a HUGE difference between whether you were attending a public or private school.

But if I’m reading your OP correctly, your principal informed you, in advance, of the consequences of moving out of that home. And you went ahead and did it, somehow figuring that neither your family nor your school would follow through with actions that they warned you, in advance, they would take.

It’s okay to wonder how things might have been different. Just don’t make the mistake of believing that you didn’t bear the responsibility for what happened. You did this, it was not done to you.

It’s not at all too late to change things. I dropped out of college in 1980 (as a junior), and finally got a degree in 1998. I took the risk of going into debt to do so – basically quit full-time work and paid the rent with students loans. Even though the job I now have is not related to the degree I earned (nor does my job require any college degree), I believe making and following through on that goal was crucial to making me a happier, more fulfilled person.

It was a public school here in Austin.

Yeah, he told me before I moved out, as I was in the process of looking for an apartment. I had no reason to believe that he wouldn’t follow through- as a matter of fact, at that point I just didn’t care anymore. In the previous six months I’d lost my mother, and my sister (as she went to live with her father), my home, and all my friends. Being told that I was being kicked out of school even though I had every intention of staying in, and likely could have had the trust not been taken away kinda pissed me off.

As I said, it wasn’t until just a few years ago that I discovered that it was a potentially weird situation. And I’ve no intention of suing, or somesuch- I’m the person I am, now, and if I’d gone on to college I wouldn’t be ME. :slight_smile:

Still, it’s always bothered me. And no, I don’t particularly get along with my aunt and uncle even now.

As to legalities it really depends on what the policy is for that particular school district at the time. Texas is noted for allowing local law enforcement administrators at all levels, a lot of leeway in decision making. If that attitude is present across the board a lot of authority might be granted to Principals as well.

“Across the board” meaning the attitudes present in Texas with respect to granting high levels of power and autonomy to people in local positions of authority. I was referencing off the fact that culturally, Texans seem to grant local authorities (including school administrators) a high degree of autonomy with respect to how they exercise their power.

I guess I don’t really have anything to add to this thread considering IANAL and I’m not familiar with Texas’ laws but man that really sounds like some shithouse luck. Lost your mother, moved in with oppresive aunt/uncle who obviously didn’t want you and then got kicked out of school even though you didn’t do anything wrong. I’m really glad to hear that this was 15 years ago and you’re doing good now. I hope you’ve let your aunt and uncle know what a couple of turds they are.

Does the trust fund still exist? Is the $180 still going to your aunt and uncle? Then you can (and definitely should) sue your aunt and uncle to get back all the money they collected from the trust fund during the periods that you weren’t living with them. There is no legal reason that I can think of why they should be getting the money. You should have seen a lawyer long ago.

I’m kinda wondering about the trust also. Where did the money end up?

Oh, I totally disagree. From the OP, I gather Lightnin’ decided to do the responsible thing and take control of his life. I think everyone has a basic right to that, especially as a cognisant adult. What difference does it make that he’s been pre-informed of the consequence of his actions? If the principal said “Well, if you move, I’m gonna find you and break your legs” would you say Lightnin’ did this to himself? Or is he a victim in this case? Why is it any different? If the action the principal took was legal, then we have a f’ed-up school system. It makes no sense to me that a public school should refuse a student a place in the school system because that student, an 18-year-old adult, mind you, decided to live on his own. BS. If the action was illegal, well then, it’s too late to do anything, methinks. Yeah, you really got the bum end of the stick, but I do not disagree with your actions. I would have done the same thing in your place.

The trust fund reverted back to NASA. I guess “trust fund” isn’t a good description of it- as I understand it, it was basically a form of charity; there was never a set pool of money. I don’t know if they normally do it, or not- whatever it was, it was damned decent of them.

When it happened, I really wasn’t too upset that I’d lost the money (other than about how it affected my plans to work part-time versus full-time)- it was basically “found money”, I guess. I didn’t lose money so much as stop getting free money, so I wasn’t angry about that. Just more… disappointed, I guess.
It’s funny- I never really though about that fund, either.