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Spokane, WA: District forced to reform overuse/underreporting "isolation practices";

July 15, 2021, Ellensburg (WA) Daily Record: Protecting Children from Being Illegally Locked in Isolation Rooms in Spokane Elementary Schools

SPOKANE, Wash., July 15, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- The Spokane Public School District has formally entered into a Consent Decree as part of a settlement with clients of Sweetser Law Office. The Consent Decree requires the District to reform their isolation practices, comply with state and federal law, and bring their practices up-to-date with the field of behavioral assessment and intervention planning. Isolation rooms have been used more frequently in Spokane Public Schools than anywhere else in the State. Overuse and underreporting of isolation has been a troublingly common practice in an alarming number Spokane elementary schools: • The isolation spaces have various names: The 'cooler.' The 'teddy bear room.' The 'safety room.' • Shut inside for hours on end, children as young as five- and six-years-old have wailed for their parents, screamed out in anger, and begged to be let out. • Children will scratch at the windows or tear at the padded walls. • Children will kick against or throw their bodies against the locked doors. • Sometimes children are secluded for so long, up four to five hours at a time, they vomit or wet their pants. • The majority of students confined to these boxes are young with disabilities or developmental delays. At five- and six-years old with disabilities or developmental delays, they are the students least likely to fully comprehend why it is happening. • Through it all, adults in the Spokane Public School administration are in the office, watching what is happening…. Schools are supposed to be safe places. When children leave the safety of their homes for the first time to enter the public school system, they have rights protected under the law. Isolated confinement to a padded box is not a substitute for a proper assessment, evaluation, and intervention plan. With entry of the Consent Decree, all principals and administrators within Spokane Public Schools are on notice that overuse and underreporting of isolation will no longer be tolerated. …


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