Ken Schram: It's a padded cell for kids

The isolation room.

A handful of state school districts use them, including Longview.

The state doesn't know how many such rooms there are because they are regulated by the individual school district.

The isolation room is described as a place where special needs students can be placed so that they're not a danger to themselves or others; a place where they can calm down.

In effect, we're talking about a padded cell.

Controversy erupted after a photo of such a room in Longview was recently put on Facebook.

I've heard school officials - even some parents - defending use of these rooms, saying that they are in the best interest of an out of control special needs child.

I've also heard some parents they were used simply as a disciplinary measure.

What I've not heard about is whether there have been controlled trials to determine their effectiveness.

What I've not heard about are the ethical discussions that surely took place before these rooms were established.

What I've not heard about is the training that teachers undergo to determine if and when a child should be placed in an isolation room.

What I haven't heard is whether parents of special needs children have been told their kids may be put in a padded cell.

And until we hear about all that, I don't think any district has any business using them.


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