Toward the beginning of the novel, Holden visits his teacher Mr. Spencer to say goodbye before he leaves Pencey Prep permanently. The reader learns that Holden flunked out of Pencey Prep after failing four of his five classes. During his conversation with Mr. Spencer, Holden's teacher brings up his performance at his previous two prep schools, Whooton School and Elkton Hills. Holden mentions that he didn't struggle academically at Elkton Hills before admitting to Mr. Spencer that he "just quit, sort of." Holden then laments to the reader about the numerous phonies that surrounded him at Elkton Hills and says that he couldn't take it. Later on, Holden admits to drinking Scotch in the chapel one Saturday night when he attended Whooton School and mentions that he would also get into numerous arguments over religion with his classmates.
Since Holden is an unreliable narrator, the reader can never fully trust everything he says or completely believe his stories, which makes it difficult to discern the exact reason he was kicked out of Whooton School and Elkton Hills. Judging by Holden's comments, one could infer that he was expelled for lack of class participation or refusal to complete assignments. Holden could have also been expelled for disciplinary reasons or disrupting the academic environment by continually arguing with his peers. Holden could also be lying to the reader and have actually failed most of his classes like he did at Pencey Prep.