Ottumwa, IA: District defends use of seclusion/restraint; '9x12 concrete room'

Mar 6, 2018, Ottumwa (IA) Courier: District addresses seclusion ‘misunderstandings’ Ottumwa Community School District issued a statement Monday defending its use of timeout, seclusion and restraint after a social media post depicted the use of a seclusion room in a negative light. The post on the Facebook page Ottumwa, We Love Ottumwa said that a kindergarten child, for disruptive behavior, was put in “a 9-by-12 concrete room with rough edged bricking… no window…no monitor and no health and welfare assessment from a school nurse prior to entering said room.” The post says that a lack of standards for seclusion rooms “creates the potential for injury not limited to possible death.” OCSD said that recent postings on social media indicate some “misunderstandings around ‘time out, seclusion, and restraint’ and how they all fit within the behavior supports in place in the Ottumwa Community School District. … … Teachers, who have received training in de-escalation strategies, also have designate time out areas in their classrooms where students can calm down and regroup. “There is a small percentage of students who need support beyond that, and may require a more individualized behavior intervention plan, and in some cases may need seclusion. Seclusion is a procedure of placing students in a room to prevent out of control, dangerous students from harming themselves or others. Seclusion is only used in circumstances when less restrictive interventions have failed,” the school district said. The Iowa Department of Education allows schools to physically confine students under certain conditions. …. “All of the [Ottumwa elementary schools] have a room that can be used as a seclusion room,” said Amy Taylor, Douma’s principal, Monday. … “Seclusion is more of a process than a location,” Taylor explained. It’s utilized when students are “physically unsafe,” she said, a threat to either themselves or other students. At the end of seclusion, students are usually provided a snack and a juice box, said Taylor. “The intent is always to help them come back unto rational control.”… In October, a local couple took issue with Eisenhower Elementary School for its use of a seclusion room to isolate their autistic son when he becomes agitated. The dispute has since been resolved through mediation.