Mom: School used 'isolation room' to punish special-needs child

MARYSVILLE, Wash. -- An outraged mother from Marysville claims a teacher locked her special needs daughter inside a "timeout closet" for hours.

Angi Wilson said a teacher at Marshal Elementary School put her second grader in the small storage closet as a form of punishment, and she fears the isolation room only scratches the surface of the school's problems.

"I was furious. I pulled her from the school," Wilson said. "No one is going to hurt my child."

The incident led to the school district putting two staffers on paid leave, but Wilson doesn't believe that will solve the problem.

The school district won't let reporters see the room in question, but they say it's six feet by six feet and does not have any windows. In addition to the small size, Wilson claims an instructor trapped her child in the room with a wooden barricade.

Wilson admits her adopted daughter has problems. The second grader was born with fetal-alcohol syndrome, but her mom said there's no reason for teachers at the school to discipline the girl by locking her in a makeshift isolation room.

"It was a closet. It was a basic closet that the aide had taken the door off of, and then used a wooden barricade to put up in front of it to block students in," Wilson said.

The assistant superintendent from the Marysville School District said while they do use time-out spaces, it is not their policy to use isolation rooms.He also said behavioral plans have to be worked out ahead of time with individual families.

Wilson said what happened to her daughter was unacceptable, and it was made even worse because she wasn't notified.

"I went to the district the next morning and said, 'I'm not sending her back,'" Wilson said.

School officials have since placed two special education instructors on leave while the complaint gets sorted out.

Some parents at the school say they're concerned.

"I think anything other than standard school practices -- and that doesn't sound like a standard practice -- should be ran by the parents," said parent Kyle Miller.

Wilson said no one from the school or the district ever contacted her about the use of isolation rooms. She said her daughter has also complained about being poked, pinched, hit and made fun of by one of the instructors who is now on leave.

The district is investigating the incident.