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.