The Columbus school district has used its seclusion rooms — some as small as a closet, some reeking of urine or covered in spit — to punish children with special needs, a state investigation has found.
Investigators also found that some city schools continue to use a type of physical restraint so dangerous that it’s banned in Ohio because it restricts breathing and can kill children. Staff members aren’t properly trained, the investigation found, and though district policy says the rooms are only for “crisis situations,” they’re often used to punish students who are noncompliant or disrespectful.
Some parents thought their special-needs children were getting therapy when they actually were spending time in seclusion rooms.
The investigation, conducted by the Ohio Legal Rights Service, a state agency that works to protect people with disabilities, began in December 2011 when the mother of an autistic boy complained that he was traumatized inside a room at Eastmoor Academy. He spent hours at a time there, where he once took off his clothes, lay in his own urine, and developed a staph infection. He was sent there often for minor infractions, such as refusing to sit down or asking for more food at lunch.In Columbus, WCMH reports: