Parent Complains About "Time-Out" Rooms in Schools

By: Tara Herrschaft Email
By: Tara Herrschaft Email

Time-out procedures are used in many Florida schools, including Leon County public schools. It is used for students with disabilities. " The time out rooms are just part of our overall behavioral plan. A plan designed to be positive," said Ward Spisso, the Director of Exceptional Student Education.

The criteria for the use of these procedures can be difficult to understand and implement. The seclusion time-out must be in essence the procedure of last resort. Teachers and administrators must try less restrictive means first. One parent says her child was put in the seclusion room just two days after being at the school. I spoke with the family attorney by phone Wednesday. "This particular case, the child was put in the room for being impolite, and another time, started on the progressive discipline for not responding when the teacher called roll, the student didn't say here," said Bob Jacobs, the family attorney.

The parent of that child has joined with the Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities and filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Education. The mother of the child did not feel comfortable speaking on camera. She asked her advocate to represent her and speak about the child's distress. "During the time she was in the Leon County School and the seclusion room was being used, at home she was exhibiting mini phobias. She was not going to the bathroom with the door closed. She wanted to be left alone inside even for a moment," said April Katine, the family advocate.

Both the child's parent and the advocacy center say they hope time-out procedures are done away with. In Chaires Elementary there are about 3 rooms in the school and about 15-20 children use the rooms. The Department of Education says it will not comment until the investigation is over.


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  • by bill Location: Houlton maine on Jan 30, 2012 at 09:32 AM
    time out rooms and restrints for the disability rights for our little people they still have the same rights as every one in the world and each parents needs to find a voice and speak up for them Contact your Human Rights Acts which has been around since ww11when the jews were totoure and that how far man kind has come out from then till now our children being cast in to a room that no one knew was their till they find out about it and it hurts the child and mom or dad who whould do such a thing to our child it said no child should fear abuse but it happens every day when they put them into a small room and they don't understand or they might have a mentel problem and it can or could make it a lot wost.
  • by Crystal Burkholder Location: Decatur In on Feb 1, 2010 at 09:00 PM
    My son was put in this time out room one day for 3 hrs and him being altistic made it worse he still a yr later will not shut a bathroom door when he uses a bathrrom nore will he shower with the shower curtain all the way closed and he still has night mares I have him in counceling from all this I beleave these closets these teachers call time out rooms need to be out lawed and child abuse charges need pressed on all teachers and school staff that has put or helped put or even watched a child be put in a closet seeing if a parent would do this to there child the welfair would not hesitate to take them away for child abuse so why should we as parents let the schools do it to our kids I think enough is enough it is abuse no matter how you cut it down no matter who is doing it it needs to stop these kids do not deserve this kind of treatment I feel the schools are failing these kids and are hurting there futers who would want to go to a place that puts them in a closet I no I would not
  • by Crystal Location: Decatur In. on Feb 1, 2010 at 08:51 PM
    I never new about these rooms I had to take a tour of a special needs class room seeing how my son was unable to keep up with his piers he can not learn from writing he is altistic so he can learn from verbal the teachers had me convinced this class room was the best thing for him I went in and tored the room they had boxes and stuff in this closet and never said they put kids in there it looked to me as a storage closet for the class room I was not told nothing I never even thought to ask about it in anouther corner of the room they had an office mad the teacher had told me that this corner was called the office where if a child was being distracted or distruptive they would be put there for time out I did not think that was to bad seeing how it was opened up and it had a folding wall around it I sighned the papers for my son to start being in all day special ed classes with this teached and her aids about a mounth after he started all day in this class he started to have more brakdwns
  • by Stanley Thornton Location: Redding California on Oct 30, 2009 at 03:00 PM
    I have been in "Special Education" from age 10. No schools I went to showed or told me or my parents about the room. It wasn't on the tour. The rooms are horrible. One room was a 4 foot by 10 foot room. No lights. Just a window with a grate on the back, and a steel door with a small window with a grate. The walls and floor were carpeted and the room smelled of urine. Most "time out" sessions lasted between 2-4 hours each time. Once in, your not allowed out until the staff feel you have learned your leasson. Most children resort to peeing or messing in the room because they are not let out to use the bathroom. Your lunch is indeed held if your in there, and sometimes you don't get it at all. One school Tobinworld in Glendale frequently withheld my school lunch if I didn't do the flash card things in the morning. My lunch was set on the file cabinet just out of reach for me to look at and smell. These so called "special education" schools get away with alot more than one would think.
  • by Alex Location: utah on Apr 11, 2009 at 06:01 AM
    I'm sorry to say but, UTAH has timeout rooms. There was an autistic student in the special ed class. He would get mad, then get violent. He has sent the teacher to the hospital 2 times He has punched my daughter in the head 3 times. I insisted that he be put in a school that has the people that know how to work with him. He needs that one on one, by someone that knows how to teach autistic children. He has also hurt many students in the class. My daughter is not autistic. I am studying autism, to help the au kids get the special help they need.
  • by FLmom Location: Palm Beach County on Apr 27, 2008 at 06:19 PM
    Florida schools are restraint and seclusion happy and don't think twice about using this kind of failure treatment on our children. If you want to make changes we need to change and create new laws to protect our children. Please contact your local legislatures and tell them your concerns about the over use of restraint and seclusion in Florida public schools on children with disabilities. Parents need to start speaking up.
  • by Tb on Apr 26, 2008 at 01:44 PM
    File with the US Justice Department and hold them to task
  • by Yolanda Location: Orlando, FL on Mar 15, 2008 at 06:11 PM
    Discipline? Are you kidding? My 12 year old son (adopted with a long history of abuse) was restrained because he freaked out when the school staff yanked the school phone out of his hands when he tried to call me to ask for help when a teacher tried to blame him for kicking a girl who walked behind him when he threw his lunch tray away. He was not allowed to provide his version. Then they dragged him to a seclusion room, causing his skin to rip open on the carpet, and threw him in this room with instructions to do 30 minutes of school work before they would let him out. Is this discipline? This is child abuse. This is NOT permitted under IDEA. Heck with FL DOE. File for a due process hearing and take FL DOE down with the school district.
  • by Amy Location: Gilbert, AZ on Dec 17, 2007 at 08:00 AM
    To All: JM in New York... I am in the same situation as you. I am praying for all and that there IS A NEED to STOP this. Autistic children need OUR protection!
  • by Amy Location: Gilbert, AZ on Dec 17, 2007 at 07:53 AM
    Unfortunately this procedure is being used at my son’s elementary school. He is special needs as well. I found out about these rooms and made it very clear in his IEP that he is NEVER to be put in there (an alternative that can be used is a "chill out rug" (just a fluffy rug which is also used in therapy. The problem is the principles don't give teachers and staff the support/ training that they need to understand the behaviors/ methods to "control" them. Look at that word... CONTROL a 5 year old that has special needs? These rooms need to be outlawed. If a child needs to be in seclusion for any reason I would argue that there are classrooms with teachers who are trained in these areas and if not... then they need to get it! File complaints and make noise. Our children only have us! We are their only "true" advocates. My son cannot verbally express when this takes place. Imagine if you could not verbally express yourself and you were put in a room of isolation. Positive?
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