‘You’re torturing me’: Illinois public schools sent thousands of students as young as five to solitary confinement rooms where they ‘banged their heads against walls, urinated in their pants, and smeared feces while crying for their mothers’

Nov 24, 2019 by

Public schools in Illinois place disruptive and disabled children as young as five years old into isolated ‘seclusion rooms’ where they scratch windows, bang their heads against the walls, urinate, defecate, and remove their clothing while begging to be let out, according to a bombshell report.
Scores of public school across the Prairie State routinely use the controversial practice of isolating misbehaving children.
According to an investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica, there were more than 20,000 documented incidents in which students were placed inside locked rooms for ‘isolated timeouts’ in the 2017-2018 school year alone.
Of those, about 12,000 were described in detail that included the reason the children were placed in timeout.
Thousands of students enrolled in Illinois public schools, like Isaiah Knipe (above), have been placed in isolated seclusion because of problematic behavior, according to a report
Thousands of students enrolled in Illinois public schools, like Isaiah Knipe (above), have been placed in isolated seclusion because of problematic behavior, according to a report
Thousands of students enrolled in Illinois public schools, like Isaiah Knipe (above), have been placed in isolated seclusion because of problematic behavior, according to a report
According to the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica, Knipe was regularly placed in seclusion at Middlefork School in Danville (above), where he banged his head against the wall so often that he was reported to have cognitive difficulties and was feared to have a concussion
The Tribune-ProPublica investigation found that more than a third of these instances were due to causes other than legitimate safety reasons.
The news agencies interviewed more than 120 parents, children, and school officials about the practice.
Isolating problematic children in seclusion rooms is legal in 31 states.
Nineteen states do not allow schools to place children inside locked rooms, while four of those states have instituted an outright ban on any kind of seclusion.
There has been little movement on the federal level toward banning or restricting the use of isolated rooms for children.
Records show that schools in Illinois employ the method the most of any other state in the country.
By law, Illinois school officials are required to monitor children in seclusion and write down logs that describe their behavior and to submit a detailed report.
In one incident, Jace Gill, 9, was placed in a ‘quiet room’ at Kansas Treatment and Learning Center at least 28 times during the 2017-2018 school year, according to the report.
Jace, who was diagnosed with autism when he was three years old and had been suffering from epileptic seizures since he was five, was referred to Kansas TLC by officials at his local school when he was in first grade.
Kansas TLC is a public school in Kansas, Illinois, that is specially for children with emotional and behavioral disabilities.
Its quiet room is a space that measures just 5sq ft and is made of plywood and cinder block.
On February 1 of last year, Jace was taken to a quiet room after he ripped up a math worksheet and went into the hallway before trying to leave school.
Twenty minutes after he entered the room, an aide observed that he had wet his pants.
The above handout image shows a 'quiet room' in Addams Junior High in Schaumburg, Illinois
The above handout image shows a ‘quiet room’ in Addams Junior High in Schaumburg, Illinois
Jace’s shoes and his shirts were already taken from him.
A school official noted that a few minutes later, Jace took off his wet pants, wiped them in the urine on the floor, and sat down in a corner.
‘I’m naked!’ he yelled, according to the official’s notes.
At this point, officials closed the door to the quiet room in order to give Jace ‘privacy.’
Minutes later, Jace defecated and started to smear feces on the wall. Aides nearby stood by and kept taking notes, according to records cited by the Tribune and ProPublica.
‘Dancing in feces. Doing the twist,’ a staff member wrote in one of the logs.
‘I need more clothes,’ he said.
‘We know,’ an aide told him.
Soon afterward, Jace started to bang on the walls and tried to open the door. He then sat against the wall and cried for his mother.
An isolation room in Ward School in DuQuoin, Illinois. A new report claims that school officials in Illinois used the practice of isolating children in seclusion rooms for relatively minor misbehaving
An isolation room in Ward School in DuQuoin, Illinois. A new report claims that school officials in Illinois used the practice of isolating children in seclusion rooms for relatively minor misbehaving
‘Let me out of here, I’m crying alone,’ he said.
It took almost 80 minutes for someone to enter the room and give Jace a change of clothes, wipes to clean his feet, and lunch.
When a mental health crisis worker tried to talk to him, Jace refused to answer her questions.
He was let out of the quiet room at 2.07pm, when his grandmother picked him up and took him home. In total, he spent more than three hours in seclusion that day.
Jace’s mother, Kylee Beaven, was shocked to learn that her son had defecated while locked in the quiet room.
She said that she was promised by school officials that students are never placed in seclusion alone.
Beaven said that the school punished her son for a medical condition that was out of his control.
Horrified by the quiet rooms, Jace’s parents removed him from Kansas TLC and began home-schooling him.
Jace died at his home in Paris, Illinois, in October of last year after suffering a seizure in his sleep.
‘He loved his dad and loved me and he loved his Gammy (grandmother),’ his mother said.
‘He had issues, but they weren’t his fault. He couldn’t control it.’
By law, school officials must document each instance a child is placed in seclusion. The above handout image shows a seclusion room in Dewey School in Anna, Illinois
By law, school officials must document each instance a child is placed in seclusion. The above handout image shows a seclusion room in Dewey School in Anna, Illinois
The tens of thousands of pages of records obtained by the Tribune and ProPublica indicate that students placed in seclusion would behave erratically and hurt themselves.
They often injured themselves by banging their heads against the wall.
Some students even ripped their fingernails and bruised their knuckles while banging on the door. Others suffered from swollen and bleeding hands.
Parents also reported psychological after-effects of their children being subjected to seclusion.
Some said their kids became afraid of going to school while others said their children could no longer sleep alone.
Some children were so traumatized by the experience of seclusion that they refused to say a word about it.
In one case of a student who was placed into seclusion in December 2018 at Central School in Springfield, an aide quoted the child as saying: ‘I’d rather die. You’re torturing me!’
Isaiah Knipe, 10, attends Middlefork School in Danville.
According to the Tribune and ProPublica, Isaiah was regularly placed in a timeout room beginning in kindergarten.
School officials wrote that Isaiah would often bang his head against the walls of the room.
He did it so often that he began complaining of ‘headache and ringing in his ears,’ according to one report from December 2017.
‘Nurse filling out concussion form.’
A month later, another report read: ‘Nurse is concerned he has been head banging several times, even slower to answer than usual, he was dizzy when he stood up, almost fell over.’
When asked last spring by reporters why he hit his head, Isaiah looked down and said: ‘I tell the teachers why.
A seclusion room is shown last month at Braun Educational Center in Oak Forest, Illinois. Records indicate that Illinois schools employ the practice of seclusion rooms more than any other state in the country
A seclusion room is shown last month at Braun Educational Center in Oak Forest, Illinois. Records indicate that Illinois schools employ the practice of seclusion rooms more than any other state in the country
‘The timeout room… I don’t like it.’
Darla Knipe, Isaiah’s mother, said she had no idea that schools kept detailed records of children in seclusion until she was alerted by reporters.
What was most shocking to parents were the reasons that these children were being confined to secluded rooms.
By law, seclusion is meant to serve as a last resort for children who are deemed a danger to other kids, according to the Tribune and ProPublica.
But records indicate that in many cases school officials used seclusion as a tool for punishment against children whose offenses were relatively minor.
In one instance, an eight-year-old boy was placed in seclusion because he was upset he couldn’t ride a bicycle during recess.
Another boy in first grade was punished because he didn’t want to stop playing tag.
A third grader was placed in seclusion because he was upset he didn’t win the prize that he wanted.
Others were sent to seclusion for not doing classwork, swearing, spilling milk, and throwing Legos.
Even preschool children spent time in isolated timeout, records show.
In extreme cases, students as young as five years old were kept in seclusion for hours.
Eli, a seven-year-old boy who attended first grade at a school in East Moline, Illinois, spent 27.5 hours in the ‘reflection rooms’ between 2017 and 2018 according to records.
He was sent into the rooms after outbursts which are considered normal for children his age, like getting upset when he was told that he couldn’t play with toys.
When he was in kindergarten, records show Eli was secluded more than dozen times.
A year later, he was secluded 49 times. His longest timeout was 115 minutes.
Students placed in isolation rooms have been reported to injure themselves by banging their heads against the wall while scratching windows and urinating and defecating in their own pants. An isolation room is seen above in Jonesboro Elementary in Jonesboro, Illinois
Students placed in isolation rooms have been reported to injure themselves by banging their heads against the wall while scratching windows and urinating and defecating in their own pants. An isolation room is seen above in Jonesboro Elementary in Jonesboro, Illinois
‘There is no reason my child should be in a timeout room for two hours,’ said his mother.
While there were seemingly minor misbehaviors that resulted in seclusion, school officials also struggled to deal with kids who were violent toward other students and teachers.
Many students placed in seclusion were found to have struck, kicked, or bit others, records indicate.
Nonetheless, experts in child behavior say the practice of isolating children does more harm than good.
‘You end up with an alienated, disenfranchised kid who is being over-punished and lacks faith in adults,’ said Ross Greene, a clinical child psychologist and author of the book The Explosive Child.
There are growing calls to reform the system, and some school districts in Illinois – like Chicago Public Schools – have banned the practice of seclusion.
But even these district often send troubled kids to schools that still use the practice, the investigation found.

Source: ‘You’re torturing me’: Illinois public schools sent thousands of students as young as five to solitary confinement rooms where they ‘banged their heads against walls, urinated in their pants, and smeared feces while crying for their mothers’ – Hide Out Now

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