"We are going to stand united and show them that we are a family that is thriving," Fiona commands, and they take Carl into the principal. Phillip is 17, Fiona's 21, I don't know if we knew that before. So yeah, they don't have Frank there because they only just got the letter. The teacher's like, "I gave Carl that letter last week!" Lip points out that it's kind of dumb to rely on a nine-year-old for correspondence of this importance, but the teacher responds that they don't even have a landline.
"Carl is taken care of at home by loving siblings," Fiona starts, and the principal explains what's been at stake the whole time: He is making the moves to expel Carl, that is his end result. And he can't move forward toward that goal without ticking off every box, and the next box is a meeting with the legal guardian. He is not stymied, in this pursuit, because he has the option of calling CPS or whatever, at which point I'm sure the rules change. This isn't a negotiation or a standoff, because ultimately he has the power -- Carl actually is nuts, and actually is a problem, and he's trying to go about this the right way, and the Gallaghers are just like, "Yeah, he needs more structure." Which is when the principal gets awful: "What Carl needs is medication, a near-death experience, or a lobotomy."
But I think only as a way of making the parallels and disjunctions clear, because we cut from that to Karen's teacher giving Frank a tongue bath about how she's "prompt, poised, cheerful," with a "vivid imagination" and "expansive vocabulary" and "greatness in her future." Which is as outsized praise -- no matter how deserved -- as was that attack on Carl -- no matter how ditto. Frank jumps in with some kind of rant about flashcards and how he is responsible for Karen's greatness which doesn't really seem to bother her, because she understands that adults are idiots, but also might be some kind of therapeutic for Frank, explaining to a teacher how to teach now that he has a leg to stand on.
Fine, the guy's calling social services finally. But just then Steve shows up, looking dapper and hot as usual, and with a quick backrub for Fiona explains how they're engaged and filing for legal guardianship of all the kids. Which is still not good enough, but then Steve notices some kind of Grateful Dead shibboleth among the principal's shit and takes him out for a quick joint and saves the day. Whatever. (Meanwhile Frank is getting the shit kicked out of him by the goons, who have once again located him somehow, and we see that this storyline is ongoing about the $6000.) Principal talks mad gross about Grateful Dead fans being sluts and whores and being everybody's first black guy and it's all this 1979 shit I don't understand, and then in the end he's still reluctant to go easy on Carl until Steve suggests he can get a regular pot supplier with a great discount.