Aug 4, 2018, Cedar Rapids (IA) Gazette: Iowa City School District dismantles last student seclusion room https://www.thegazette.com/subject/news/education/iowa-city-school-district-dismantles-last-student-seclusion-room-students-parents-outrage-restraint-complaint-school-board-state-probe-20180804 The Iowa City Community School District dismantled its last student seclusion room Wednesday, getting rid of the 6-by-6 foot boxes that have sparked outrage from some parents. But what’s next? Disagreement with a classmate, an F on a test or chiding from a teacher can spark anger, frustration or other negative emotions that in turn can snowball into violence. The district of more than 14,000 students still will use conference rooms and small classrooms for seclusion as a last resort to calm students who may be a danger to others or themselves. But school officials have made major changes, including improving staff training, switching to electronic reports and implementing a new clinical psychiatry approach for high school students. The goal is to reduce the need for seclusion and restraint starting in the 2018-2019 school year. … Statewide concerns Many of Iowa’s largest school districts have faced scrutiny over student seclusion practices and reporting. U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley in May asked the federal Education Department’s Office of Inspector General to investigate misreporting of seclusion and restraint used in public schools, citing the Cedar Rapids Community School District’s underreporting of seclusion incidents from 2012 through 2016. … Even though Iowa City has abolished the wooden cubicles once used for seclusion, staff still will complete a report anytime a student is kept in a conference room, office — even on the playground — against his or her will, Glenn said…. Improved training The Iowa City school district switched from the Crisis Prevention Institute training for seclusion and restraint to a new program called Safety Care, which provides more thorough training, Glenn said. … Safety Care also provides for 30 trainers across the district — compared with just six before — which means nearly every school in the district will have its own trainer on staff, Glenn said. The training contract costs the district $57,750 this year. PBIS, or positive behavior intervention and supports, is an acronym many Iowa City students associate with “tickets” teachers and staff give students for good behavior. Accumulated tickets might result in a prize or a fun activity. The program focuses on teaching students what is expected of them and reinforcing appropriate behavior rather than focusing on discipline. PBIS has been in option at Iowa City schools for many years, but starting in 2018-2019 it will be mandatory for elementaries and junior highs. Dina Bishara, an Iowa City parent and co-founder of the Iowa City Autism Community, said she’s glad to see better training for staff, but she also wants the district to keep in mind the mental health issues that may lead to behavioral problems. … On that front, the Iowa City district is expanding use of dialectical behavior therapy, which helps students learn to cope with painful emotions and lessen conflict in their relationships with teachers or peers. … Students learn coping strategies, such as distraction and pace breathing. They also learn to foster healthy relationships that help them reach their goals, Burkhalter said…. Starting this fall, the Iowa City school district will make dialectical behavior therapy available to students at all four district high schools.
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Children today are noticeably different from previous generations, and the proof is in the news coverage we see every day. This site shows you what’s happening in schools around the world. Children are increasingly disabled and chronically ill, and the education system has to accommodate them. Things we've long associated with autism, like sensory issues, repetitive behaviors, anxiety and lack of social skills, are now problems affecting mainstream students. Blame is predictably placed on bad parenting (otherwise known as trauma from home).
Addressing mental health needs is as important as academics for modern educators. This is an unrecognized disaster. The stories here are about children who can’t learn or behave like children have always been expected to. What childhood has become is a chilling portent for the future of mankind.
Anne Dachel, Media editor, Age of Autism
(John Dachel, Tech. assist.)
What will happen in another 4 years? How can we go on like this? This is a national (and international) problem of monumental proportions. We have an entire new class of children who cannot be accommodated by the system: many are manifestly neurologically impaired. Meanwhile, the government and the medical profession sleep on regardless.
UK media editor, Age of Autism
The generation of American children born after 1990 are arguably the sickest generation in the history of our country.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
It seemed to me that with rising autism prevalence, you’d also see rising autism costs to society, and it turns out, the costs are catastrophic.
They calculated that in 2015 autism cost the United States $268 billion and they projected that if autism continues at its current rate, we’re looking at one trillion dollars a year in autism costs by 2025, so within five years.
Toby Rogers, PhD, Political economist
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