CLEVELAND –The ACLU of Ohio sent a letter to the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) yesterday, asking for a better, more proactive policy regarding the problem of seclusion rooms in Ohio Schools.
“As recent media coverage has shown, Ohio schools currently have little, if any, oversight on the use of seclusion rooms,” said Policy Director Shakyra Diaz. “Drafting a policy is the first step, but to be effective, this policy must set clear goals to end the use of seclusion rooms in favor of a better system.”
“In the meantime ODE must also provide clear rules and data collection requirements to govern the practice of seclusion,” added Diaz. “These rules should be consistent for all schools and mindful of a student’s fundamental right to bodily integrity and human dignity.”
The ACLU letter outlines ten key provisions currently absent from the ODE draft policy. First among them is a provision holding charter schools to the same rules and standards as any other school.
The letter also requests mandatory post-seclusion debriefings between school personnel and parents/guardians, as well as mandatory data collection on the frequency of seclusion room usage, the reason for seclusion, and the students affected by the practice.
“There are much better methods than seclusion for student intervention, and schools should be making the transition to those methods,” said Diaz. “However, that transition will take time and training; in the meantime schools must at least keep parents informed. They should also be collecting detailed data on their usage of seclusion rooms and that data should be accessible to the public.”
“A consistently applied policy that combines data collection with training and parental inclusion could make a real difference for Ohio children,” added Diaz. “Unfortunately, we’re not there yet.”