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School board focuses on budget amid civil rights complaints

READ MORE: School board focuses on budget amid civil rights complaints
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EDITOR'S NOTE: Tuesday evening "Ben Brown" sent an e-mail to local media outlets explaining that his name is not actually Ben Brown. He said he is using the alias to protect the identity of his child.

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The New Hanover County Board of Education meeting Tuesday was business as usual, focusing on the budget with little discussion about the controversy surrounding seclusion rooms or two complaints filed against the district. The topic of seclusion rooms was not on the agenda, until the public comment portion of the meeting.

Ben Brown with NC Fear Free Education asked the board to consider holding a public forum to discuss seclusion rooms. He says it's important for teachers and parents to know all the facts.

"A government study, a GAO study, has shown that over 200 children died from seclusion and restraint over a five year period of time," Brown said. "This is a very dangerous practice. Most of the children who are in a seclusion room that do die died by vomiting and aspirating on their own vomit much like the eight year old child did on her way to Freeman School the other day."

We tried to talk with Superintendent Tim Markley about the board's opinion on seclusion rooms, the two complaints filed in the last month and where the school board would go from here. He said the board had not received the second complaint and there was no change in terms of seclusion rooms as far as he was concerned.

When we asked Brown what he thought about Assistant Superintendent Rick Holliday's comment that complaints are fairly routine for school districts, Brown says the school system is missing the point.

"That would be like a guy saying 'police come and knock on my door all the time. It's no big deal,'" said Brown.

Board of Education Chairman Donald Hayes says the board may consider holding a public forum to discuss seclusion rooms but, because of the confidential surrounding the subject, he's not sure how effective the meeting would be. The board has no official plan to hold a hearing yet, but Hayes said he would let us know if anything is scheduled.

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