Creepy ‘isolation booth’ used to lock up disabled students

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Top Tier Gear USA

Apparently the school to prison pipeline is much more significant than I previously thought. Not only are schools forcing children to be tracked and withdrawing them when they refuse to accept such tracking or putting six-year-old kids in handcuffs for alleged temper tantrums, in one school system they are placing special needs students in a kind of solitary confinement they call an “isolation booth.”

One such room, eerily reminiscent of the infamous “padded rooms” of psychiatric hospitals in times past, exists in Mint Valley Elementary School, part of the Longview Public School system in Longview, Washington.

According to KATU, a local news station out of Longview, Washington, the room has been used for the past four years.

“That’s because the school hosts a special education program for disabled students with behavioral issues,” reports KATU. “The booth is used to calm down some of the students when they’re at risk of hurting themselves or others.”

While KATU regularly refers to it as an “isolation box” the Longview Public School administrators prefer calling it an “isolation booth.”

The picture of the booth, shown above, quickly spread around Facebook and other social networks with many viewers responding with apparent horror.

The original poster of the image on Facebook, identified by KATU as Ana Bate, a Longview mother, called its use “abusive, arguing children are locked in for crying or tapping on their desks.”

Darren Pirtle, responding to the photo asked, “seriously … have the police been notified that this is being used?”

Bate is the mother of a 10-year-old son who is not in the special education program at Mint Valley Elementary School but she told KATU that her son witnessed the placing of several children in the box.

According to Bate, in one case a female aide approached a boy from behind, picked him up off the floor and put him in the so-called isolation booth.

Bate also related another instance when a boy was put in the box for lifting up a desk and after he was in the booth itself he became violent, a somewhat understandable reaction to being forced into solitary confinement.

“My question for the school district is how is that therapeutic if not directly opposite from this supposed reinforcement they’d like everybody to believe it to be?” asked Bate.

“If they are being paid to lock people up, get extra education and work in mental health or psychiatric units, not with children that have minds that need to be explored, need to be expanded, that need to feel safe,” Bate said, according to KATU. (Note: the odd phrasing of the statement was printed by KATU and copied verbatim by End the Lie to maintain accuracy.)

The Longview Public Schools see it in a completely different light.

“People have their own opinions without having a lot of the information about it,” said Sandy Catt, director of communications for Longview Public Schools. “I would not classify it as abusive.”

Catt claimed that the isolation booth is designed as therapy for students who need to calm down. One must wonder why they are using a technique abandoned by the psychiatric field decades ago while continuing to claim it is “therapy.”

According to Catt, only eight or nine students are allowed to be placed in the box because they have permission from the parents of the children.

“It is concerning to us that there may not be a complete understanding of the situation,” said Catt.

Catt claimed that some of the eight or nine children voluntarily go inside the isolation booth for a break from stimulation.

Catt also said that when the door is locked with the child inside, a staff member remains outside the booth monitoring what happens.

According to Catt, the school district had never received a complaint about the isolation booth until Tuesday and “none of those complaints has come from parents whose students went inside,” according to KATU.

KATU added that the children of parents who object to the troubling practice would never be forced into the box since the district requires permission from parents.

However, Bate made a quite valid point, at least in my humble opinion, in telling KATU that she questions the parents who agree to allow their children to be placed in the isolation box.

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  • umx3

    Disgusting and sick.

  • That may be the reason special ed and working with disable has a high turnover. Everyone is anti locking up, subdoing or doing anything at all when the disable cause z disturbance. It is like the risk should be accepted. Yet if someone is maimed or injured none want to pay.

  • Kevin

    My girlfriend works as a teacher and at her school they have some children with special needs. A longtime teacher who was in their special education group had one of those rooms.

    The only times he would use it was when one of his students (4th to 6th grade) would pick up a chair and hurl it across the room, start beating on another student, continue to bread equipment, tear up other students property or the child threatened to kill him or others in the school. His having to call security to the classroom was an almost daily event. And that doesn’t include having the children escorted to the nurses office for them to take their medication.

    He quit working as a teacher because of the continued stress of that position (remember, defending yourself against a child will land you in prison) and took a job as a groundskeeper. He has had a marked improvement in his overall health since then.

    The children that are the most violent should not even be in a school. We can all thank “No Child Left Behind” for at least part of that. We can also thank the parents for sending their violent children to school with the expectation that the teachers will be able to help them. I hate to state the truth but those children need to be in a more specialized facility for not only their safety but the safety of others.

    The school district has effectively shut down their SPED classes and those students are now entering the regular classrooms which radically disrupt the learning environment.

  • Crossroads

    My wife is a public elementary teacher who had several violent students, although the school does not have a isolation booth. Administrators have told her that state law says that a school official is NOT allowed to “physically restrain” a violent student from hurting other children. When that happens in a classroom, she’s been told to move all the other students into the hallway, & then close the door & watch the violent student break whatever while calling for help. She has asked a number of administrators, HOW CAN A TEACHER TEACH ANYTHING UNDER THOSE CIRCUMSTANCES? & gets no response.

    Meanwhile the public & school board complain that test scores are not improving. I suspect the parents who’ve given permission for their child to be put in an isolation booth, realize how extremely difficult their child is & don’t know what else to do.

  • I think we should take those violate children and make them president of the USA,OH thats right we just done that,OH,OH OK forget I brought it up………….