News

Actions

Another child locked in school seclusion room

Posted at 9:57 PM, May 19, 2016

Another parent is speaking out against the Poudre School District's (PSD) use of school seclusion rooms.

This mother asked Denver7 to conceal her family's identity to protect their privacy, but said she had to move and transfer school districts to make the punishment stop.

"It was a horrible nightmare," she said. "Even now, I feel like my son has residual trauma from this."

Denver7 first exposed the issue and found seclusion rooms are perfectly legal and used by school districts across our state, a lot of times without parents knowing.

"I feel like people just really need to know that this happens, it's not just an isolated incident," she said.

The woman's son was just 7-years-old and attending Linton Elementary in Fort Collins when she said the school used restraint and seclusion to calm him down by putting him in a cell-like room.

"It was horrible to go through, when I heard my son describe in his words being put in this room and squished in the corner on the floor like a pancake," she explained.

She said her son suffers from ADHD, and the room only made the situation worse.

School records provided to Denver7 also show her son was put in "time-out" four times in one month, and at times for up to an hour-and-a-half.

"I felt like the approach with my son at the school at PSD was to punish him to get him to behave," the woman said.

She's the second parent to come forward saying their child was forced into seclusion at a PSD school.

Don Lovejoy said his 7-year-old son Joshua also suffers from disabilities and was placed in a 4x8 seclusion room at Bennett Elementary more times than he can count.

"If I were to do that at home, I'd be in prison," he said.

Use of seclusion rooms in schools

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) has set policies for when seclusion and restraint can be used in schools.

Under the law, Colorado schools are legally allowed to place children in seclusion but only in emergency situations when there is an eminent threat of serious bodily injury.

Once the threat ends or the child calms down, schools are required to remove kids from the rooms.

In addition to CDE's rules, the Poudre School District has its own policies which state seclusion rooms can be no smaller than 6x6.

"It's not appropriate to even have a seclusion room in an elementary school," the woman said. "To be used on 5-, 6-, or 7-year-old children."

In her case, she said the situation got so bad she was forced to move, enrolling her son in the Thompson School District where she said they have yet to use seclusion as an answer.

"Since it was only done in this one school in this one school district, I know that it was never necessary to be done," she said. "I want people to know so that change can happen."

District response

The Poudre School district continues to deny Denver7's request for an on-camera interview, but sent us the same statement:

Poudre School District takes the safety and well-being of all students very seriously. As such, the district listens to parent concerns and partners with parents to resolve issues.

PSD’s practice is not to discuss with the media or general public situations pertaining to specific students or other confidential matters concerning students.

Policy JKA governs the use of physical intervention, restraint, seclusion and time-out with students in accordance with state and federal law. Parents who believe the district has violated this policy and/or governing law may pursue claims at no cost to them with agencies at the state and federal level, or may pursue the matter through the administrative hearing process or in court.

Other states

While Colorado does have some protections when it comes to the use of seclusion in schools, Denver7 found other states like Georgia and Hawaii have already banned the practice.

Five states: Georgia, Hawaii, Nevada, Pennsylvania, and Texas ban all seclusion for children with disabilities. 

---------

Sign up for Denver7 email alerts to stay informed about breaking news and daily headlines.

Or, keep up-to-date by following Denver7 on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.