‘Please Just Let Me Out’: Children Locked Away In Isolation In Schools Across Illinois
A ProPublica and Chicago Tribune investigation reveals the extent to which schools use "quiet rooms" to put children in "isolated timeouts." But advocates argue the practice, which isn't broadly monitored, can cause trauma for the children -- and they say there are better ways to deal with difficult behavior.
The Quiet Rooms
The spaces have gentle names: The reflection room. The cool-down room. The calming room. The quiet room. But shut inside them, in public schools across the state, children as young as 5 wail for their parents, scream in anger and beg to be let out. The students, most of them with disabilities, scratch the windows or tear at the padded walls. They throw their bodies against locked doors. They wet their pants. Some children spend hours inside these rooms, missing class time. Through it all, adults stay outside the door, writing down what happens. In Illinois, it’s legal for school employees to seclude students in a separate space — to put them in “isolated timeout” — if the students pose a safety threat to themselves or others. (Richards, Cohen and Chavis, 11/19)
The Federal Government Collects Data On How Often Schools Seclude Children. The Numbers Don’t Add Up.
In fall 2015, Glacier Ridge Elementary School in Crystal Lake first used its Blue Room, a padded space that allows school workers to place students in “isolated timeout” for safety reasons. Students were secluded in that room more than 120 times during the 2015-16 school year, according to records obtained by ProPublica Illinois and the Chicago Tribune. Yet the district, in its required reporting to the federal government, said it hadn’t used seclusion at all that school year. (Chavis, Cohen and Richards, 11/19)