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Gages Lake, IL: Video shows 7 yr old in seclusion room; 20,000 incidents in one year

Dec 13, 2019, (UK) Daily Mail: Shocking video emerges showing a seven-year-old boy being held in cell-like 'seclusion room' at school after he told his parents he was held in a 'scary office' Parents were shocked when they obtained a video from their son's Illinois school showing him detained inside a window-less, cell-like 'seclusion room' used for timeouts. Staley Sandy-Ester is seen in the April 30 footage at the Gages Lake School, a therapeutic, public school in Lake County. The video triggered a massive state investigation into the controversial practice. The boy appears upset and is prevented from leaving the room by a female school aide. When Staley, who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, kicks the woman, she grabs and shoves him. His mother later learned of the incident when Staley came home and complained of a 'scary office' at school, reports ProPublica Illinois. The mom didn't know what he meant until she saw the footage a month later, a Pro Publica and Chicago Tribune investigation found. That's when the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services began investigating whether kids were being abused in 'the office', as the room is called at Gages Lake. Public schools in Illinois have historically placed disruptive and disabled children as young as five years old into isolated seclusion rooms, where they scratch windows, bang their heads against the walls, urinate, defecate, and remove their clothing while begging to be let out, according to ProPublica and the Tribune's findings. There were more than 20,000 documented incidents in which students were placed inside locked rooms for isolated timeouts in the 2017-2018 school year alone…. Records indicate that Illinois schools employ the practice of seclusion rooms more than any other state in the country. Gages Lake, which serves students in kindergarten through fifth grade, as well as those with emotional disabilities, was found after a 15-month review by ProPublica and the Tribune, to have used seclusion more than almost any other Illinois school that was looked at. … Officials form the Special Education District of Lake County, which include Gages Lakes, watched the footage while investigating another incident at the school, and had contacted the state, reports ProPublica. At least eight children, including Staley, were found to have possibly been abused over a month's time in the spring. … District Superintendent Valerie Donnan said 'many hours of video footage' were watched, reports ProPublica. But she declined from detailing which ones were reported t the state as possible abuse, and noted the videos were part of an ongoing police investigation…. The mother says sometimes Staley was left unsupervised behind a locked door, with nobody watching from outside, which is required by state law. She said she watched him walk around the the perimeter of the room, pacing back and forth and rolling on the floor. He is seen knocking on a glass observation window, seeking a response. 'You just see the minutes roll and roll,' she said. …


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