Iowa: U.S. Senators question the use of isolation rooms for bad behavior-especially with SPED kids

May 15, 2018, Des Moines Register: Iowa senators call for federal investigation into school seclusion rooms U.S. Sens. Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst are calling for a federal investigation into the use of seclusion rooms in public schools, and U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack wants to see them banned altogether. Many Iowa school districts, including Des Moines Public Schools, use seclusion rooms — often padded, 6-foot by 6-foot wooden boxes — to restrain children, typically following violent outbursts. The practice is legal in Iowa, but it has sparked controversy in recent years. The Iowa City school district said it would stop using seclusion rooms at the end of this school year following a state investigation. An Iowa Department of Education ruling found that the Iowa City school district violated state and federal law in the way it used seclusion rooms, including occasionally using them for "minor infractions." Iowa City used seclusion rooms 698 times in the 2015-16 school year, according to a district report. At the time, there were 30 seclusion rooms in schools throughout the district. Fourteen of those rooms have since been removed or repurposed. The remaining 16 seclusion rooms will be discontinued by the 2018-19 school year. Other reports have found the use of seclusion rooms has been under-reported by some Iowa schools. In Des Moines, four schools that serve high-needs students use seclusion rooms when students become a danger to themselves, staff or other students, spokesman Phil Roeder said. The rooms are monitored by an adult when being used. … Ernst and Grassley's offices confirmed the senators have reached out to both the U.S. Office of Inspector General and the U.S. Department of Education. … In addition, Loebsack, a Democrat, said he wants to see all seclusion rooms discontinued. "At the federal level, I believe it is past time to take action and prohibit any state or local education entity from allowing students to be put in seclusion rooms," Loebsack, a former teacher, said. "All of Iowa’s students would benefit from positive behavioral interventions that support student learning and engagement.”