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Ohio and Florida Public Schools Lock Mentally Disabled Children in Closets

Ohio and Florida Public Schools Lock Mentally Disabled Children in Closets

Written 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 secluded students 4,637 times in 2010-2011 and 4,193 in 2011-2012. 42 percent of seclusions were for pre-K through 3rd graders. In the 2011-2012 school year, 300 seclusions lasted more than an hour. 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.

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.

 

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7:53PM PST on Dec 10, 2012

At my child's school they've just put a policy in place to double punish students. If a child goes to the time out room and other punishments 3 or more times in a semester they will be excluded from any social activities at the school. They were already punished, why punish them more and ostracize them? Parents were not even asked for their input on the policy. It was snuck under the radar and put on a recent newsletter more of as an afterthought rather than a proper announcement. I for one am not standing for this and have put together a petition that I plan on bringing to the school board at their next meeting. I need as many signatures I can get. Please, support the children. It is appreciated.


http://www.thepetitionsite.com/443/258/344/dont-be-a-grinch-give-kids-their-christmas-back/

3:31AM PDT on Oct 4, 2012

Cassie R, so you think the actions by these schools was appropriate?

You say, "Even in the prison system such procedure is practiced under certain conditions and circumstances."

Schools are not prisons and prisons should never serve as a model for schools. Cassie, are you a Republican?

5:05PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

Re-posted so this may be read in the proper chronological order...
As a mother of a disabled child (who has been in seclusion BTW), having experience working with the disabled, as well as working in the law enforcement community, I think it's terrible that people just assume that they know what is going on with their children or in the schools. Maybe the focus should be on the safety of the teachers, other children as well as that of the child causing the disruption. Many children with behavioral or mental disabilities frequently conduct violent or self injurious behaviors. The teachers are limited as to how they can protect themselves as well as the other students. Further more it would be a shame to see a child face legal ramifications because Florida's budget doe's not allow for proper accommodation for these special needs children, many of which lack proper judgement or impulse control. After personally observing seclusion. I observed that a teacher was posted at the door for the entire event, the door was not locked and the child was able to divert from the act. Even in the prison system such procedure is practiced under certain conditions and circumstances. I think it is ludicrous to think that simply diverting a child from injuring themselves or others, leaving the school campus, or simply allowing them to calm down so they might complete their school day would cause any child to injure themselves. Thus in most cases, there are existing underlying issues. ... contin

4:51PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

The remainder of my comment that didn't make is was essentially.... If this is true, the multitudes of persons in mental health facilities, prison, military or even private schools must all be on the brink of self annihilation! Let us not forget about all of the children for generations that have been sent to their rooms, before that was decided to be archaic. I would agree that like anything, this could... and has been abused, but if you need to get your panties in a wad. Do something useful like push for proper placement, education, training and secure learning environments for the many physically, mentally or emotionally disabled children in the school system. Since the schools are required to care for such children and the instructors are forbidden to touch the children, even to protect themselves or the other students what do you propose? Sadly everyone is a victim and no ones child is ever wrong, or so it seems. This is the same reasoning that forces parents to fear disciplining their children, discourages competition and the reason the prison system is full of spoiled whiney overgrown children that have not learned until too late that there are consequences for their actions. Sadly too many disabled persons also find their way there also because someone thought seclusion would damage them.... Go figure.

4:46PM PDT on Oct 3, 2012

As a mother of a disabled child (who has been in seclusion BTW), having experience working with the disabled, as well as working in the law enforcement community, I think it's terrible that people just assume that they know what is going on with their children or in the schools. Maybe the focus should be on the safety of the teachers, other children as well as that of the child causing the disruption. Many children with behavioral or mental disabilities frequently conduct violent or self injurious behaviors. The teachers are limited as to how they can protect themselves as well as the other students. Further more it would be a shame to see a child face legal ramifications because Florida's budget doe's not allow for proper accommodation for these special needs children, many of which lack proper judgement or impulse control. After personally observing seclusion. I observed that a teacher was posted at the door for the entire event, the door was not locked and the child was able to divert from the act. Even in the prison system such procedure is practiced under certain conditions and circumstances. I think it is ludicrous to think that simply diverting a child from injuring themselves or others, leaving the school campus, or simply allowing them to calm down so they might complete their school day would cause any child to injure themselves. Thus in most cases, there are existing underlying issues. If this is true, the multitudes of persons in mental health facilities, prison,

11:44PM PDT on Sep 5, 2012

WHO thinks of these punishments?!!! How terrifying and traumatizing for these young children, and if one is mentally disabled, how much scarier, not understanding what "punishment" is. I hope this expose means that there will be revisions in this type of action. As a parent a hundred years ago, I wouldn't have allowed my school district to do this.

10:39AM PDT on Sep 4, 2012

Bonjour,

This seems to be like some psychiatric point of view and actions.
If a child has a so called "disabilites", then you must put him in a room. Keep him there. And then you could try some "treatments".
First treatment could be "give him some medical drugs" with a lot of dangerous side effects.
Second, you could "help" him by punition, using violence...

Those "treatments" are "using torture" to help somebody to be a "normal" person.

And, the basic problem of education will be never discovered : students have never been taught how to learn. And this problem is real for children in school and for people in life.

Punishment is not the way to solve education problems !

7:38PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

Reading this brings back memories of Willowbrook!!!

7:07PM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

To discipline special naughty kids you punish them by sending them to seclusion rooms and lock them up in closets etc.? are they animals or what? even animals get better treatment. and you get training on how to use these rooms? joke. you humans dont treat animals fine at least treat the kids better.

6:09AM PDT on Aug 24, 2012

If this happened to my child I would sue.

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