Monday, August 06, 2007

Solitary Confinement for Schoolchildren...

A local school district just faced a lawsuit for keeping an autistic child in a "timeout room" for three hours. The timeout was videotaped.
"It was more than shock. It was pure mortification," her father later testified
during a legal proceeding. "We saw her hitting herself in the head. We saw her
just looking like a wild animal, essentially, for well over an hour, someone who
had just lost all control of herself and all hope."

I'd never even heard of timeout rooms before this story. Apparently, they're in use all over the state. They're just what you think they are - solitary confinement for children. The girl in this story asked to go to the bathroom and was denied. She tried at least 10 times to sit in the "body basics" position for the required 5 minutes, but every time she fidgeted, she was told she would have to start the count over. She wet her pants during her confinement, and still wasn't allowed to leave.
Kevin Took, a psychiatrist at Blank Children's Hospital in Des Moines, said he
deals with children who have been severely traumatized.Took testified that he
did not see anything traumatic about Isabel's videotaped timeout, even though
she wet her pants. Urination and defecation are fairly common issues with
children with autism spectrum disorders, he said.

While she is autistic, this is a child able to ask for a restroom break and function without accidents every day at school. This guy is supposed to be an expert in traumatic situations. Anyone who has ever been to school knows how traumatic wetting your pants can be. Her autism is no excuse for this abuse.
Records show Isabel was in timeout for 100 sessions between September and
December 2005, for as many as five sessions in a single school day, and
sometimes for an hour or more.

This whole article was maddening and horrifying. Especially this part:
As a result, Waukee is not bound to change the way it uses timeout rooms.Because
it was an administrative hearing, the Loefflers cannot seek damages, although
they could seek reimbursement for their $80,000 in legal fees. They also have
the right to sue for damages in civil court.There was no penalty for the school
district.

Jesus Christ. "I'm glad we homeschool" isn't good enough this time. What about all those kids continuing to spend time in isolation rooms? Did anyone else even know they used these? Are homeschoolers still making an unfair comparison when we say public schools are like prisons?

11 comments:

Ami said...

About 10 years ago, our local news ran a story about "The Box" just across the river in Ilwaco, Washington. It's just what it sounds like, a big box in the corner of the special ed classroom to put kids in when they aren't 'behaving properly'.

I am glad the parents in the story you posted took their child out of school, but was disturbed to read that they are going to put her back IN school gradually.

I can't understand how they could ever entrust their daughter to a system that abused her.

Katherine said...

Damn. I was coming here to ask you to send me a picture of your feet for my blog. Then I read this. Now I'm so mad and so thankful my kids, at least, are safe. I hate the school system. I think it is beyond toxic.

Fuck those fuckers! I'll put them in timeout till they pee in their pants. It just makes my blood boil!

Can I have a picture of your feet?

Jenni said...

That's horrible! I can't understand how anyone would think it's okay to do this. I also can't believe they videotaped it. I suppose that shows they saw nothing wrong with it, but sheesh!

My oldest three are in public school. (This is the first year for 13yods.) My oldest ds has had in school suspension several times as a result of tardies. ISS is spent in a room the size of a closet with just a desk. Ds doesn't mind it because he says he gets all of his homework done before he leaves. He is allowed to go to the bathroom and bring his lunch back to the ISS room. It's a reasonable punishment for an older child who can understand it.

In this situation, a similar room was used, but under very different circumstances. I can't believe these are people who supposedly want to help children. They should be ashamed. Instead they're behaving as though they've done nothing wrong, saying they will do it in the future, and having their abuse approved by the court system.

Christine said...

This story sickened me too. I can't imagine being heartless enough to think that kind of treatment is okay.

Whoever the teacher was that kept making her start timeout over completely abused their power in making her start over for every little movement. It was frustrating to hear every person in the school system saying there was nothing wrong with what was done, just to cover their butts.

If this was a parent who locked their child in a small windowless room with no furniture and let them beg to come out and to use the restroom and were denied, what would Child Protective Services have to say about it??

Heather said...

Christine, Exactly! School staff, mandatory abuse reporters btw, should not be allowed to do anything that a parent would lose their children over. This was abuse. Period.

Robinella said...

At my sons old school, they had to sit at a desk, removed from the rest, in a different classroom. The teacher used most often was a scary old hag. Not any better in my opinion. They are still ostracized and no longer able to learn.

Totally agree with Christine.

RegularMom said...

Good Christ, that's awful! People don't even treat their pets that way. What the fuck is wrong with people??????

I am so glad I homeschool.

kitten said...

That is just awefull! Yes, I have heard a few stories around here. I'm glad it didn't ever happen to mine, I would be in prison. Poor girl. I can't doing nothing but shake my head.

Lisa said...

Completely unexcuseable. Yet another reason to homeschool

Erik said...

Back in 1992 I was in a Washington State school that used rooms like this. I was 10 ten and in fourth grade. There wasn't a desk, so if you wanted to get school work done you had to keel and use the chair as a desk. There was plenty of light. Several times I was confined the entire school day except for lunch. Thought they did forget about me at least once. At least I was allowed out for bathroom breaks. Generally I was put in for being behind on school work. I already had emotional problems due to unaddressed peer sexual abuse from when I was around five or six. I believe this treatment was a major factor in developing suicidal desires and depression at the time. I continue to struggle with them. The various abuses I was subjected to have been a major factor in my reluctance to have children of my own.

I have been making a lot of progress with my depression recently and rarely have suicidal thoughts now, but it's taken months of work and over thirteen years of pain. If I ever did have children I could never bring myself to trust the public school system.

Anonymous said...

My 6-year-old son has been having behavior problems at school. Yesterday he decided to run down to a snow pile when called in for recess. This resulted in the teachers calling the behavioral teacher to get him. She sets him off instantly. She put him in their timeout room where he was observed through the window for an unknown amount of time. The note sent home from school was nothing more than he was disrespectful for refusing to come in from recess. I had called a teacher that afternoon about something else and she told me he had had a very bad afternoon and had to see the behavioral teacher. My stomach turned because I know how he feels about her. Only after my husband and I kept asking him to walk us through what happened did he mention having to go in a small room. Finally I got him to describe the room and realized what it was. (I used to work in a facility where we used these rooms when children became violent only after many, many attempts to help them gain control.) I asked him this morning if he had ever been in this room before. "A couple times." I have NEVER been informed of this --- NEVER. I was NEVER informed about how bad his behavior was getting. Now we don't know what is his behavior and what is theirs. I have told them repeatedly to call me if his behavior is not acceptable. I thought we were supposed to be working jointly. School was cancelled today, so we will have to wait until after the holiday to discuss our disgust with our principal.