Letter to the editor: School district’s use of seclusion rooms unacceptable

Photo by Jordan Sellergren
By Casey Leonard

Months ago, I was shocked to read reports that the Iowa City Community School District has been using small, plywood boxes to seclude students as a form of discipline. But I am even more disheartened by the district’s refusal to put an immediate end to the practice. This is unacceptable.

We should all be concerned about the incredible harm that is being done to the children who endure this perverse punishment. Some students who exhibit behavioral problems have already undergone trauma, and this embarrassing and dehumanizing penalty at the hands of their teachers, and often in front of their peers, only serves to further traumatize them. Our district’s teachers require and deserve more extensive training about adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. Our students deserve safe, sensory spaces that help them calm down so that they can return to class to continue learning.

If it takes a village to raise a child, what kind of village are we, Iowa City? Are we a village that turns a blind eye to a practice that dehumanizes both students and teachers? Are we a village that would even defend such a practice? Or do we have enough courage to confront a troubling and unsettling truth and do what needs to be done to fix it? For the sake of all of our children and our own collective humanity, I hope it is the latter.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 223.

1 thought on “Letter to the editor: School district’s use of seclusion rooms unacceptable

  1. CHECK YOUR FACTS! The “boxes” are 6’x6′ detention rooms with strict regulations and parents are contacted. Casey please mind your own business and allow these parents and teachers to make choices based on their DAILY experience with these children. If a child is throwing things and physically assaulting a teacher or student what would you rather them do? This isn’t just about the children that you put in the “boxes” but also about the safety of those around them. The average time out in the “boxes” is 5 to 15 minutes in an UNLOCKED ROOM (once again6’x6′). Oh yeah and did they mention it’s temperature controlled has a window and padded to prevent injury? Better than many other forms of punishment!,%20Administrative%20Rules%20on%20Seclusion%20and%20Restraint.pdf

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