19 August 2008

Legal Child Abuse?

The following quote (with my notes in red) comes from our local school's "student handbook" on page 11. I'm not going to link to it, but those of you who know what school district I live in (same as "city name, state") can access the handbook online by doing a search for the district and finding it. It concerns "recovery rooms," which is eduspeak for "locking a child in a closet as punishment." Read for yourself:

If the student is too angry or disruptive in the Buddy Room (another classroom to which the teacher sends the child who has "disruptive behaviour...),
they will be sent to the Recovery Room where they will be
allowed time to calm down and time to develop other methods
of handling their behavior with the assistance of the Recovery
Room Staff (Um, I have lived in this district 11 years and have never seen specially assigned "Recovery Room Staff." Usually it's just the teacher or, if she's busy teaching a class, whichever administrator or other staff member who feels like taking on this task or has the misfortune of being in the hallway at that moment). Occasionally, a student will be sent directly to
the Recovery Room if the sending teacher believes the
student is indicating it is the safest place for the student to be.
A plan will be written by the Recovery Room supervisor and
the student (Yeah, I'm sure the student will agree to anything, and in WRITING, to get out of the flippin' locked closet, thanks...) and discussed with the sending teacher.
Processing must take place before the student can return to
class. (And do you know what "processing" is? The handbook makes it clear that that's when the student "takes responsibility" for his actions and has written a "Think Sheet" detailing the problem and how it will "look better next time." I'm not saying sometimes these students don't need to take ownership of their behaviour, but the way it's written is so dictatorial as to be amazing. Confess and you'll be released... even prisoners get better treatment in America.)

From the Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services pdf on "recovery rooms:"

/Such disciplinary methods should never be used as punishment. Restraint and seclusion are last-resort methods and should be treated as such.

"I’m afraid that these methods are used more than a lot of people realize, and they are harmful to the students who experience them -- not just physically, but mentally too," says Byron Koster, a Senior Advocate with Missouri Protection and Advocacy, who has been receiving reports from parents whose children have been subjected to inappropriate restraint or unnecessary seclusion./

Preach it, Mr. Koster. I'll sit in the Amen corner and wave the hanky.

4 comments:

  1. Yes, and I beleive there was a big hulaboo (sp?) at one of our former LS elementary schools about something like this. I think....

    You definitely will know Niki by her pink helmet. Too funny, Mrs. C!

    We're using MOSTLY BJU this year. We're doing that with SS, Reading and Bible. I'm using Rod and Staff for LA and something I can't remember for Science (bad Mom, too lazy to go look, too). It's not one of the big companies, though. I think I regret not getting BJU Spelling, so I'm off to the Good Shepherd later this week to see if I can score a used copy. If not, I'm not sure, maybe Rod and Staff. Oh! And Teaching Textbooks for Math...don't have that yet, so we're reviewing for a few weeks.

    Alex is doing very well, gets that thing out of his mouth next week. Hooray!

    xoxo

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  2. That sounds pretty scary. At my daughter's school they have a TAP (Thinking and Planning)room, which is really a fancy name for detention. If you get given a 'yellow card' you get TAP room. Nobody has ever really explained the whys or wherefores to me. I just told my kid that if she got a yellow card she better run fast, cos if I catch her she won't be worried about the TAP room!

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  3. O.K. I've been reading your interesting but scary posts for awhile now. Do you still send your children to these public schools? I hope not. I know kids with handicaps are a handful, but wouldn't it be more humane to just keep them home? I think it would be better to learn nothing at all than to be subjected to this sort of abuse. Why keep fighting?

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  4. Hi, anonymous. My younger children are educated at home. My eldest, who is a high school freshman, is "gifted" and has never encountered difficulties to this degree and would like to continue his education in public school. So we let him.

    My second eldest is also autistic and is in special education(grade 8). In HIS case, they use the "safe" or "recovery" room as a calm-down area but have NOT shut the door on him. I am ok with that and have emailed his special ed teacher that the door is never to be locked.

    I think circumstances under which one should lock a child in a room like that should be extremely extraordinary ones. Unfortunately, when we deferred to the school staff's "professional judgment" with Elf years ago, we found him locked up frequently and have removed him from school.

    I'm concerned as well about public schools like this. I'm thankful to live in a state (Missouri) where home education is not very restricted, but concerned that the same state allows for such free reign by school staff.

    Surely, anonymous, I would be turned in to the proper authorities if I locked my children in the closet on a regular basis. Why can school staff not be held accountable to the same standard? I find it odd that the stereotype is that home educators are the ones doing this sort of thing when really, it's the schools that are abusive in our case.

    Not to ramble, but while there ARE abusive parents out there, on the whole it's the schools who have the lawyers and the laws on their side. Most parents truly do want what is best for their children. Were I beginning grade school over again with my older children, I would seriously consider homeschool.

    Oddly, the public special-needs preschool does not use these methods and I wouldn't be averse to sending my special-needs son there if the situation warrants in another year and a half. It may well be that special-needs staff at the preschool are better trained for "situations" before they arise, rather than coming down on the back end with consequences for things after the fact.

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Non-troll comments always welcome! :)