Complaint filed against New Hanover Co. Schools over seclusion rooms
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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The New Hanover County School District is once again taking heat for the use of "seclusion rooms." A family has filed a formal complaint with the US Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.

The parents of a special needs five-year-old filed the complaint. They believe disabled students are being treated unfairly when it comes to seclusion rooms.

"It's not talked about. It's kept quiet. It's New Hanover County Schools' dirty little secret," said Sara Reider, a parent of a special needs child.

Reider's child has been put in a seclusion room multiple times. She's not the person who filed a complaint against the school system, but she is part of NC Fear Free Education, a local group that is trying to get seclusion rooms banned.

"It can exacerbate behaviors. Children are dehumanized. They're traumatized. There's long lasting effects. They're stressed. Anxiety increases," Reider said of seclusion rooms.

The small, padded seclusion rooms are used for children with special needs, and they are often a part of their individual education plan, or IEP.

"It's not an idea that you're putting somebody in an area and you're going to put them there for a specified period of time until they can quote 'learn how to behave.' That's not what it's all about. It's about deescalation, safety, so they can't hurt themselves or hurt someone else," New Hanover Co. Schools Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday said.

Holliday says when it comes to seclusion rooms they follow House Bill 1032, which is known as the Greenblatt Act. But Reider says that does not make it right.

"The law is quite convoluted," she said. "There's a lot of leeway in there. It's hard for anybody to read that law and understand what is what."

As for the formal complaint filed this week, it claims children with special needs are discriminated against, because the rooms are specifically for them. Dr. Holliday has a different take.

"There are lots of intervention that you may use for children who are entitled that you may not use for someone else because they don't need that intervention, so everyone's individual education plan is just that: it is individual," he said. "Interventions that are used in all those plans are specific to that particular child."

The family who filed the complaint wishes to remain anonymous.

As of now, the school district has not received official word of the formal complaint.

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You are so right let the parents come to school and get the out of control child. But tell that parent not to put kid in padded closet at home. Because if they do they will be going to JAIL!

What kind of disability does this child have? A child with Oppositional Defiant Disorder is very different from a child with Cerebral Palsy.

Some special needs children have to be helped with control.Parents that known that they can't control them at home expect them to run amuck in the public schools interfering with the education of the other students.The parents of this children should think about all not just their own.

The states way of dealing with autistic children is to force them into seclusion rooms or stuff them into a bag. Much like prisons are being used for mental hospitals now.

if they think the seclusion room is inappropriate discipline for their children's misbehavior.
Maybe the alternative is they can take off work and come deal with their misbehaved child themselves.
From my understanding, the children aren't placed in the rooms for convenience. It's for their behavior which is difficult to control in another fashion.
I realize that having a special needs is challenging, but I'm sure it's equally as challenging trying to provide an education to them. School isn't a magic pill for overcoming physical and mental special needs.
I would like to know in the parents' complaint, what are their suggestions and what do they do at home to deal with these issues.

My thoughts exactly. If the parent is not willing to step up and travel to the school any time they call about a problem with their kid, then they need to let the staff handle things as they see fit.

You're assuming the school is actually willing to tell the parents there is an issue. Too often they don't, because then it would mean they might actually have to do some work, like follow a behavior plan. So instead, they drag the child into a "quiet room" which is often a cinderblock closet. Child is too traumatized to speak about it, and parents are left in the dark.

These children are not "misbehaving." You make it sound like they're just little brats who need discipline. The behavior issues are manifestations of their disabilities. Seclusion rooms do not "control" these behaviors. If they did, no child would ever have to be put in one more than once. They are most definitely used for convenience, when a teacher does not feel like following the behavior plan that would have prevented a full-blown escalation. Often the parents don't have to deal with these issues at home because, unlike the teachers, they follow a behavior plan. Very often the schools will not allow for an functional behavior assessment because they're too lazy to abide by it. It's easier to just drag a child into a seclusion room and lock the door.

I can relate to all you parents who have Special Needs Children. We have fought for our special needs child for almost 11 years. He looks normal and healthy but we know the reasons he has been under the doctor's care for almost 11 years. Sometime his frustrations and misunderstandings can turn him around. Then he falls apart. He is the most loving child in the world. Yes, he is a human being and I believe people who don't get to know these little ones as one of God's creatures are in favor of putting them away and out of sight and out of mind. He is a person and is very special and I will continue to fight for him as long as I am alive. I can discipline and love him and I will not tolerate cruel treatment. Parents who have never dealt with this situation don't even have the basis for an opinion! I pray they never have to deal with it. I pray everyday for guidance as a parent and for healing for my little one.

I am a Specialized Educator for over 20 years AND a mom of an 8 yr old boy with Autism. Despite all the appropriare diagnosis, which alao include Anxiety disorders and Sensory Integration Disorder, despite delaying kindergarten and preparing the school and school board in advance with ALL information, my son spent the 1st 2 years of public school triggered, unsupported, and thus, restrained and secluded, then sent home, often 2 hrs into the day, EVERY day! They refused to deal with him except by the premise that he was oppositional, manipulative, or defiant. This caused trauma to him, and incredicle marital stress, and financial burden, let alone how this affected his older brother. I fought HARD, harder than I thought I could, to get him the APPROPRIATE support for him...So here we are, Grade 2....well, we finally got it. He is fully integrated, attends fulltime, has not be sent home once, and no aversive measures have been taken! He is catching up to his peers, making friends, and even has a little sweetheart, lol...he has self esteem, motivation, and regularly demonstrates pride. SO....what was the question again??????

Perhaps there should be special rooms for non-compliant teachers and staff. Like the waiting room at the local unemployment extension office.

Oh wait -- that would be barbaric. And they have the Teacher Tenure Act to protect them from such treatment (unless, of course, according to Section 1904, they should "Advocate the Overthrow of the Government.")

Hope the OCR is able to intervene on behalf of these children.

Also not true!! Teachers have the NC Evaluation tool to adhere to! If they do not they can loose their tenure and be fired.

Secluding the special needs child only causes further psychological damage to the child and permanent mental scarring...

For an autistic child, the disruption may be as small as the teacher saying “What do you thing the outcome would be if we mixed yellow and orange?” and the response of the autistic child (without being loud, aggressive, negative, etc) “I have a game on my game boy that has a superhero who is yellow and orange.” Is a disruption that warrants imprisonment in a padded locked cell in a public school?
Really?? I mean… Really??? You actually think that is ok? If you do, you are just as sick and twisted as the “GuestTeacher” post above who by the way proved alone with her comments that she needs to be a professional educator just about as much as my left big toe does…
Anyone can educate.. Only a special person who is caring and empathetic can be a teacher and teach.

Really, Guestreally..... GuestTeacher conveys having books, a trash can and chairs being thrown at him or her. Your example is a child giving a peaceful non-sequitur answer to a question is not a fair comparison at all.

I read in GuestTeacher's comments a sense of frustration at being responsible for the performance as well as the security and safety of the other students in his or her class. Don't forget, the majority are entitled to an education too.

I question your choice of the words "sick and twisted" to describe GuestTeacher's post. Where is YOUR empathy and understanding for GusetTeacher?