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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The controversy over New Hanover County Schools’ use of seclusion rooms is now the subjection of a federal investigation.

The Department of Education’s Civil Rights Office is looking into a claim that seclusion rooms are only being used on students with disabilities.

It all started with a complaint from a student’s parents last month. They alleged their son and other students with autism were put into seclusion rooms. They also said the rooms are only being used on students with disabilities.

The parents received formal notification late last week from the Department of Education that it has opened an investigation. The DOE’s Civil Rights Office said, though, that the investigation in no way implies that it made a determination to the merits of the complaint.

School Board member Dr. Derrick Hickey says he was well aware of the concerns from the parents who filed the complaint. Hickey added that prior to even hearing about an investigation he was pulling for an open discussion on the seclusion rooms.

“I just think it would be valuable to have an open discussion about what parents are seeing within the schools,” Hickey said.

The School Board member says while several parents have told him the padded rooms are a great way to assist their child while at school; several others have also come forward with concerns.

“I think parents need to understand that we share their concerns that their children are being taken care of appropriately,” said Hickey. “We want to pursue best practices as well. I was hoping to start an open dialogue with groups of people so that if there are problems then we can fix them.”

Comment on this Story

  • Guest21

    Any child that is so violent that he must be put into a seclusion room belongs in an institution, not a public school.

  • Phillyguy

    When I was a young lad we did not have padded rooms. If ya got out of line your desk got moved into the hallway, you got your A## beat at school then again when ya got home or the teacher would say the heck with it and take the class out for extra PE on the playground to run off some of the energy.

  • Guest461

    …as to just how violent, uncontrollable and powerful some of these special needs children can be. When these kids get into that mode, there isn’t any negotiation. The “compassion” is an attempt to invoke damage control and let them cool off before someone gets hurt by their rage.

    What do you recommend? Allow them to hurt other students, tear up school equipment, injure an instructor? You left wing liberal bunch of mamby-pambys talk about “barbarism”, inhumane this and inhumane that, but you know what? YOU need to go and be a teachers aid in these classes, get some first-hand, real-time experience and understand reality! Then maybe some “understanding” would befall you and prevent you from preaching about something of which you know very little! Then, tell us then how you much YOU like having a black eye, broken arm, bloody nose AND and entire class disruption!

  • evey

    I was a teacher that worked with children with disabilities and can assure you that putting them in a “rubber room” will do more harm than good. These children need “special” attention and understanding and most of all”compassion”. NO child should ever under any circumstance be put in a “rubber room”.
    These tactics were used “back in the day” in insane asylums. It was and is “barbaric” and violates the dignity of a child.
    I hope the parents fight this tooth and nail and eliminates this inhumane practice.


    Correctness started in the 70’s people were accountable for their actions. Now parents think all their kids are perfect and give into them too much. No wonder they are screwed up. Something might hurt little Johnny’s self esteem..SO WHAT. live with it. Every kid that plays a sport has to get a trophy even if they are the losers, might hurt their self esteem. Can’t yell at them, might hurt their self esteem. Can’t correct them , might hurt their self esteem..WHAT A LOAD. When we got in trouble we got sent to the principals office and sent home. You parents need to STOP and REALLY raise you rug rats not depend on others to do it. You are raising a nation of wimps. If your kid is so out of control why do you blame the teachers it is YOUR FAULT. Learn to BE a parent..Johnny is not perfect..

  • Guest88

    Why should this person be a teacher’s aide when they said they was a TEACHER? It would stand to reason that someone that knows everything should know reading comprehension. “You don’t have a clue”,now that was funny.

  • Guest461

    I personally know 4 teachers that deal with special needs children on a daily basis and know of the experiences they have encountered. If this lady was indeed a teacher in these circumstances, she would know better than “understanding” their sometimes violent behavior will not prevent or deter it in any fashion.

    The use of acute reading comprehension allows one to pick out conflicting statements. That’s exactly what I did and why I made the recommendation. She simply doesn’t have a clue of the reality in some of those classroom situations and tends to compare the use of the room as some sort of asylum-like punishment. It’s a “cool-off room”.


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