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Loudoun Cty, VA: Isolation room use questioned by parents

Feb 15, 2018, Leesburg, VA, Loudoun Times: The Isolation Room: Loudoun County parents alarmed at treatment of students with special needs

https://www.loudountimes.com/news/the-isolation-room-local-parents-share-horror-stories-about-school/article_ba901f88-2ec7-11e8-8ede-57e67c4140be.html Concerns and complaints are mounting over Loudoun County Public Schools' treatment of students with special needs, particularly the system's use of isolation and seclusion practices. Gigi Daniel-Zagorites was placed in a makeshift isolation area within a special needs classroom at Belmont Ridge Middle School in Lansdowne last September when she was photographed by another student with special needs. Daniel-Zagorites was trapped in an area with furniture blocking her exit as she clung to what appears to be a drawer. … Catron, who viewed the investigation as insufficient, now home-schools her son ho took the photo. He has autism and is “minimally verbal.” Catron moved to Loudoun from Arizona, where she said there was a “very poor public school system.” “But every child is included ... kids with disabilities are not included here. This is the worst county we have ever lived in. More training is needed to teach kids with disabilities here,” Catron added. Heidi Pirela, a Loudoun County mother, said “kids like my son with autism are being educated as second-class citizens.” “Fraudulent reports, retaliation against parents, not notifying parents when a child screams the entire first half of the day, laughing at students because their files are so large, laughing about their abilities, and so many more disgusting actions are prevalent across the schools in our county,” Pirela told the Times-Mirror. “If this was a private institution, it would be shut down.” … Gigi Daniel-Zagorites' incident isn't the only case of isolation techniques being used in Loudoun County schools. Alex Erkiletian, a parent of a 10-year-old boy with Aspergers Syndrome, said he became aware last year of a so-called “chill room” or “cool down room” in Frederick Douglass Elementary School in Leesburg. The room was separate to the “chill area” in the special education classroom used by his son and absent of any furniture, books or education materials. In February 2017, Erkiletian was called into the school after his son had been placed in the room for using foul language. Erkiletian was asked to come to the school because his son made statements about not wanting to live, which led to staff attempting to complete a suicide screening. When Erkiletian arrived, there were three members of staff standing outside the room with walkie-talkies while Erkiletian's son was lying on the floor. Erkiletian was told he should take his son to a local mental health hospital. …