Parents are outraged over the use of scream rooms at Farm Hill Elementary School in Middletown, Conn. The spaces, meant to calm special needs students, are used as a disciplinary and class room management technique.
The school has come under fire from parents who have been told about the so-called scream rooms from their unhappy children. Although the rooms have reportedly been used for at least two years, parents were never told about the disciplinary procedure.
One mother, Tricia Belin, claims her two children regularly hearing screaming coming from the rooms.
My 1st grader is there and is not learning because there are so many behavioral problems at that school, Belin told NBC Connecticut.
Belin claims she complained to the school's principal last October when she first learned the rooms were used to isolate special needs students who proved disruptive in classrooms.
She told FoxNews.com that administrators were vague and told her the rooms were considered an alternative learning environment. The school district allegedly calls the spaces, time out rooms, designed to calm students down, reports NBC Connecticut. Administrators did not explain whether students were placed in the rooms alone or whether a teacher was put there with them.
One parent, however, described the rooms to NBC as, scream closets, where kids bang their heads off of concrete walls.
Closet is pretty much what it is, Belin told FoxNews.com, describing the rooms as 6-by-4 foot spaces with concrete walls.
In fact, many parents have expressed anger not only at the procedure, but also at what has been found in the room. Building custodians are said to have cleaned blood off the walls and urine off the floor.
He tells me, ma I don't want to be in the room, parent Felicia Roulajc, whose 8-year-old son suffers from behavioral issues, said at a PTA meeting late Thursday. I told them that and they still put him in the room.
We have issues here at Farm Hill, said school Principal Pat Girard.
The school has made an effort to address concerns this week. Board of Education Chairman Gene Nocera told FoxNews.com that he learned about the book room sized spaces and was told they are used to handle special education students with a history of behavioral issues.
We want to be sure our students are being treated safely, Nocera said.
According to Melissa L. Olivie, a behavioral consultant at Applied Behavioral Strategies, there is currently no federal legislation that prevents schools from using seclusionary time-our or isolated time-out rooms. Wright's Law outlines the different rules for restraint and seclusion laws, but the law differs from state to state. In 23 states there are still no meaningful restraint or seclusion laws.
In Conn., there are explicit laws regarding how at risk students' behavioral issues should be addressed, and seclusion, which would include scream rooms, is only an accepted form of intervention if it is specifically outlined as an appropriate response for that particular student in their IEP (individualized education program). Read the explicit Conn. regulations on seclusion and restraint here.
NBC also reports that the Conn. Office of the Child Advocate is investigating. In an effort to address the issues, District Superintendent Michael Frechette presented plans on Jan. for additional support to Farm Hill Elementary.
The plans include: the addition of a student management coordinator trained in special education, promoting the current part-time psychologist to a full-time position, addressing feedback from the ACES Behavior Services Center, developing a climate committee to address building needs, starting a family resource center, extending training for classroom management, among other support programs. The extensive plan can be read here.