Editorial from The Vindicator
There’s a saying that when God closes a door, He opens a window. But politics isn’t divine, and experience shows that when government cracks a window, it often tries to slam shut a door.
Consider what’s happening in Columbus in response to a series put together last summer by the Columbus Dispatch and StateImpact Ohio, a collaboration of NPR and Ohio public-radio stations, on the misuse of seclusion rooms in public schools to deal with unruly students.
The Dispatch reported that no law governs seclusion rooms — which can range from something akin to a bare oversized closet to a padded cell — and the Ohio Department of Education had provided little guidance and virtually no oversight to schools on their use.
The series surveyed 100 school districts and found that 39 of them had seclusion rooms. But the Department of Education has no idea which districts have seclusion rooms and how they are used, because it has not asked.
The department does not know how often vulnerable children are locked alone in these rooms and does not intend to tell schools to stop doing whatever it may be that they’re doing.
But the department is poised to take some action this week, at a meeting tomorrow. And while some parents and child advocates may see the department’s action as a start, they’re likely to find that in the long run it will become more difficult to find out how some school districts are using seclusion rooms.