Five feet by seven feet wide, nine feet tall with a small window and padded walls. It is called a seclusion room. Kirsten Findley is troubled by the one found at Carolina Beach Elementary School; her son is in kindergarten. "He said he had very traumatic experience with a teacher. That he was threatened to be locked into a room with the lights off and the door locked," said Kirsten. Early this month, Findley said her son was having a bad day at school, and was crying uncontrollably. She said his teacher sent him to an empty classroom to calm down; a classroom for special education students. The seclusion room is inside. Findley said, "At first I thought that was kind of far fetched. I didn't really know of a room like that at my school. So, the next day I went to the school to speak to them about the situation." The seclusion room is used for some special education students who fall under the Individualized Education Program. After a psychological assessment, parents can agree to allow their children to be placed in seclusion if they are displaying dangerous behavior to themselves or others. It is not intended as a punishment. New Hanover County Executive Director of Special Education, William Trant said, "That's a component of a IEP, it's not for all children. It's for children with disabilities that may suggest that particular kind of need or that intervention." Findley's son was never actually placed in this seclusion room, though she said it was used to threaten him, which is not what it's for. Findley eventually filed a complaint with the school district. School officials replied saying, "The principal has assured me that they will no longer utilize the IBS classroom as an intervention for your son." School officials are still investigating the incident and told me they can not discuss the issue further, since it's a personnel issue. The State Board of Education permits seclusion rooms with strict guidelines and inspections. The majority of schools in New Hanover County have a seclusion room. Findley said her goal was to make other parents aware such rooms do exist. Many other states permit the use of seclusion rooms. Officials say teachers who work with special education students undergo intensive training, to learn when using them is appropriate.
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