Seclusion and Isolation Rooms Misused in Illinois Schools


From the Chicago Tribune: “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. Yet every school day, workers isolate children for reasons that violate the law, an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois has found.

Children were sent to isolation after refusing to do classwork, for swearing, for spilling milk, for throwing Legos. School employees use isolated timeout for convenience, out of frustration or as punishment, sometimes referring to it as ‘serving time.’

‘Having a law that allows schools to do something that is so traumatic and dangerous to students without having some sort of meaningful oversight and monitoring is really, really troubling,’ said Zena Naiditch, founder and leader of Equip for Equality, a disabilities watchdog group that helped write Illinois’ rules in 1999.”

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  1. This is, of course, nothing new. George Washington Carver Intermediate School in Chesapeake Va utilized isolation booths in the early 1990s. They didn’t have doors or padded walls but I otherwise see little difference. I was suspended for cursing when describing how I was attacked by two boys. Suspension meant sitting in a desk in a three sided concrete booth by yourself in silence for the entire day (or 3 days as ISS was usually doled out). The black male principal at this school instructed my father to whip me below the knees in order to avoid child abuse charges or cps interference. Schools appear to be inherently dangerous to children’s health and yet we send them day after day to the miniature prisons. This is child abuse and it is sanctioned by people who are supposed to be caring for kids.

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    • Kindred, I hope most schools do not do this, as it makes kids angrier and who knows how angry. I do know that a lot of teachers treat kids differently from each other and it is obvious to little kids. Even if one tries to fake liking a kid, they know better, and I think this is HUGE in a kid’s formative years. If a kid is already defensive or subconscious, it will give him more reason to think he deserves not to be liked. Then if he acts out, you give him pills or isolate. I am all for teachers having a say in a classroom, they cannot function within a room of 24 kids that are unruly. But often teachers dislike kids for plain old being ‘different’.

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