Parents Don't Understand Why Schools Need 'Isolation' Rooms

Parents in Independence, Missouri are not too happy about isolation rooms used by the metro school district. Yet, the Independence School District says isolation rooms have been in use for over a decade.

District Superintendent Dr. Herl said, "It is about deescalating the behaviors so that the child has a chance to calm down, and then hopefully return right back to a classroom setting." Dr. Herl shared that an adult must stand outside the door and watch the child through a window.

He went on to say "It's not a scary locked closet that people may envision with this. A lot of times it's a former classroom or a former office, or maybe a meeting space or a former copy room."

Nonetheless, parents are not satisfied with the explanation. Lacy Barnett said, "For her to say there's a room where you can hear kids screaming, they say that if we are bad enough or we do something, that is our punishment."

In addition, parents were upset to find the electrical outlets weren't covered. Although the school has since placed covers on the outlets.

Joni Gentry, who has a fifth-grader at the school says, "The children are coming home and expressing what's happening, the screaming."

District officials say there is a state investigation underway following one parent's complaint about an incident involving an isolation room. The district has invited parents to take a look at the room for themselves.

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Janet Richards said, "Are you calling it isolation? Or, is it literally as a parent would say, 'can you go to your room and get yourself together?'" A group of parents have started a petition asking for leadership changes at Mill Creek Elementary School.

Photo: The Atlantic

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