Johnny is causing headaches in classrooms across the country even before the spit wads of grammar school start flying.
A new study finds pre-K students are expelled three times more often than K-12 children in general.
The problem appears to have more to do with a lack of teacher resources than anything inherently bad about Johnny, however. And in a twist that might surprise some parents, the problem is less severe in public schools than in faith-based settings.
The survey by scientists at Yale University is based on data from all 40 states that fund pre-K programs, which serve 3- and 4-year-olds.
"No one wants to hear about three- and four-year-olds being expelled from preschool, but it happens rather frequently," said study leader Walter Gilliam of the Yale Child Study Center.
Though rates of expulsion vary by state, pre-K expulsions exceed those in K-12 classes in all but three states.
The lowest expulsion rates are in public schools and Head Start programs, according to a statement released by Yale. The highest rates are in faith-affiliated centers, for-profit childcare and other community-based settings. Students were expelled twice as often in classes where teachers had no access to a psychologist or psychiatrist.
"Classroom-based behavioral consultation appears to be a promising method for reducing pre-kindergarten expulsion," Gilliam said. "When teachers reported having access to a behavioral consultant who was able to provide classroom-based strategies for dealing with challenging student behaviors, the likelihood of expulsion was nearly cut in half."
Four-year-olds were expelled at a rate about 1.5 times greater than three-year-olds. Boys were kicked out more than 4.5 as often as girls.
African-Americans attending state-funded pre-K were about twice as likely to be expelled as Latino and Caucasian children, and more than five times as likely to be expelled as Asian-American children.
The study used a random sample of 4,815 classrooms, or about 12 percent of the total in state-funded pre-K programs.