Some parents speak out in favor of school 'time out' rooms

AUBURN, Wash. -- Controversy erupted last week upon the discovery that several school districts use small isolation rooms --or "time out" rooms -- for special needs students to calm down or decompress.

Several parents made it known they were angry about their child being put in the rooms without their permission.

But now others say there is another side to the story -- a side that parents of special needs students understand.

"People don't understand what these rooms are for because they're not in our shoes," said Katherine Lynch, whose daughter Dakota has cerebral palsy. "These rooms are very important, because it keeps her safe from when the autistic kids have meltdowns, it keeps them safe, and keeps others safe so they're not injured."

Paulette Debourbon's son uses the rooms as well.

"As long as kids are not being forced into the room, or locked in, they're OK."

Jared is 11-years-old and has oppositional defiant disorder.

"I would be having a bad day, and they would ask me if I want to go in, and I would say yes or no," Jared said.

Jared makes use of a time out room at Auburn's Rainier Middle School.

Principal Ben Talbert says the room is used exclusively for special needs kids.

"You don't want to remove a student forever," Talbert said. "They're having a bad time, they have a hard time controlling it because of their disability, so you help them reset, and you get them right back on track."

A number of school districts make use of similar rooms besides Auburn, including Puyallup, Tacoma, Port Orchard, and Kent.

Lynch says they help our schools to be more inclusive of kids facing special challenges.

"It's so important to understand that these are not bad rooms," she said.

The key, according to Talbert, is that the rooms be used correctly. He says our schools are far more inclusive than they've ever been before, and that the rooms are a by-product of that philosophy.