Creepy ‘isolation booth’ used in public elementary school to lock up disabled students
By Madison Ruppert
Editor of End the Lie
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 (with additional images below), 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.
“I have a 20-year-old daughter who’s actually been institutionalized, medicated heavily, ADD, ADHD, RAD, OCD, among other things,” Bate said. “I never had to have anybody put her in a box. I didn’t have any problems dealing with the situation, so I do know both sides.”
“If you feel like you have to lock a child up, they shouldn’t be in public school,” said Bate, according to KATU. “I don’t think it gets any clearer than that.”
UPDATE: KATU is now reporting that one parent, Candace Dawson, says that the school put her child in the booth without her permission when he attended Mint Valley Elementary three years ago.
“He said that’s the naughty room,” Dawson told KATU. “That’s what he called it. He said when kids are naughty they get put in there.”
Dawson said that she had no idea that the school had anything like the isolation room in place until she went online and saw that Mint Valley Elementary was making headlines.
Dawson said that when she asked her son about it, he became very uncomfortable and informed her that he not only recognized the pictures plastered across the Internet but also said that his teacher forced him to spend time in the so-called “isolation booth.”
Dawson said that while her soon indeed does have some behavioral problems, she “would never OK the school to send her son to this room.”
This statement is in stark contrast with the official line coming from the administrators who claim that parents give permission before any child is placed in the box.
Dawson said that she would file a complaint Wednesday afternoon and the district stated late Wednesday that “it does have new information that brings to light something like Dawson’s complaint but it would not confirm that Dawson did in fact make a complaint Wednesday afternoon,” according to KATU.
UPDATE 2:More images of the “isolation booth” have been posted online by KATU. View them below:
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