Oklahoma: "OK schools using supply closets and empty classrooms to house students who are causing"

Dec 20, 2017, Oklahoma City, News OK: Oklahoma state rep: Slowing the use of seclusion rooms Last year, I ran a piece of legislation scaling back corporal punishment for students with disabilities. It was important to me to protect these children from inappropriate disciplinary techniques. So when I learned about school personnel across Oklahoma using so-called “seclusion rooms” on those same students, it really upset me. This month, the media reported on Oklahoma schools using supply closets and empty classrooms to house students who are causing trouble. Many times, these kids have special needs. They may not even understand why they're being secluded from their peers. It's a practice Oklahoma really needs to take a closer look at. Do we want to be throwing kids in supply closets? Surely not. I imagine teachers and school personnel say these rooms are used as last resorts, but I believe there are better ways to maintain the safety and security of all students in a classroom. … The Association for Behavior Analysis International released a position paper in 2011 condemning “the inappropriate or unnecessary use of seclusion, restraint or other intrusive interventions.” The ABAI acknowledges seclusion may sometimes be the only option, but analysts urge those times to be supervised. We shouldn't be locking kids in rooms without monitoring them, the ABAI says. The Council for Exceptional Children takes a similar stance, warning seclusion should only be used during emergencies instead of as a routine procedure. The CEC also clearly states this practice should not be used to punish or force compliance. These seem like straightforward suggestions, and ones I urge our schools to become familiar with. The Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders actually outlines some suggestions. For instance, the council says secluding a child should be limited only to the length of time it takes to eliminate risk of injury or wait on law enforcement, if necessary. If seclusion does occur, it suggests schools take plenty of notes and provide all documentation to parents as soon as paperwork is compiled. The council also outlines steps for a staff debriefing that should occur within 48 hours of the incident. These are all practical guidelines that would benefit everyone involved. Currently, Oklahoma lacks any law regarding secluding kids. We have voluntary guidance, but we need more. I've spoken with House attorneys about strengthening Oklahoma's protection against unnecessary seclusion. It's time we get something in statute.