By Aviva Shen
To discipline misbehaving students, public schools in Ohio and Florida regularly send children to “seclusion” — isolation in a locked cell-like room, old office, or closet, NPR’s State Impact reports. Many of these children are special needs students and their parents are not always told of this disciplinary practice.
Ohio schools — where seclusion is almost completely unregulated — sent students to seclusion rooms 4,236 times in the 2009-2010 school year. Sixty percent of these students had disabilities. Florida schools have fewer cases, with 969 instances of seclusion from 2010 to 2011. The state has just three stipulations for using seclusion rooms: teachers may not choke or suffocate students, the room must be approved by a fire marshal, and the lights must be left on.
A joint report by StateImpact and Columbus Dispatch report found rampant abuse and lack of training of the punishment, which is meant as a last resort to deal with violent children:
But last school year, one Pickerington special-education teacher sent children to a seclusion room more than 60 times, district records show. In nearly all of those incidents, the children were not violent. Often, they were sent to the seclusion room for being “mouthy,” or whining about their school work.
Pickerington Special Education Director Bob Blackburn said the teacher in that classroom was new and that someone in the district has now taught her the right way to use the seclusion room.
Other Pickerington teachers misused the rooms, too, though. In another classroom, children were secluded more than 30 times last school year. Two-thirds of those instances involved misbehavior and not violence, district records show.
Far from benefiting violent or rowdy students, seclusion has been found to be deeply traumatizing, sometimes leading children to hurt or kill themselves. In one special education school in Georgia, a 13-year-old boy hung himself in a seclusion room in November 2004.
Locked Away: Read Seclusion Room Logs From Ohio Schools
BY MOLLY BLOOM
The Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio requested logs of seclusion rooms’ use from 100 school districts across Ohio as part of our reporting on seclusion rooms.
The logs show that the rooms are often used for their intended purpose: to calm or restrain children who become violent. But they also show that the rooms are misused.
Here are a few examples of uses of seclusion rooms from some of the incident reports and logs districts provided, as well as links to the full documents so you can see for yourself how the rooms are used in some schools.
More at Source
I know for a fact that this happened in Illinois, too, and I saw it firsthand when I was a kid. I don't if they still do it in Illinois, but obviously it's still happening elsewhere. Absolutely disgusting. This is not how you help a troubled child.