Editorial from The Columbus Dispatch
Confining a child alone in a room should be a last resort for schools that need to deal with children whose emotional and discipline issues are posing a serious, immediate threat. New rules proposed for Ohio’s public schools should help increase transparency, discouraging improper use of seclusion rooms.
An August investigative report by The Dispatch and public-radio cooperative StateImpact Ohio prompted greater scrutiny of this discipline method; it found many cases of these rooms being used inappropriately. In one case, a student was physically restrained, causing bruises, in such a room simply for getting upset and slamming a book on a table.
Thanks to the media attention, the State Board of Education has proposed rules requiring schools to track and disclose how often they are restraining or secluding children. The new policy would also require schools to “greatly reduce, and in most cases, eliminate” the use of restraint or seclusion, in favor of handling emotional issues without force.
The new guidelines certainly would be a good first step. However, schools would not be required to make details of such incidents available to the public, including the reasons children were placed in seclusion rooms. Also troubling, the rules would not apply to charter schools.