9/17/2014

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Politics

Oregon bans use of seclusion rooms in schools

Oregon bans use of seclusion rooms in schools

EUGENE, Ore.- Oregon lawmakers passed a bill banning seclusion rooms from schools around the state. The legislation now heads to the governor's desk for a final signature.

A seclusion cell as defined in House Bill 2756 is a self-contained unit that is used to isolate a student from other students or physically prevent them from leaving the unit. These "seclusion cells" or rooms are used in many schools around the state, and House Bill 2756 would prohibit their use.

Jared Harrison spoke to lawmakers about his experience in seclusion rooms.

"You have two adults dragging you into a room and locking the door behind you, and you're just a little kid and you don't know what's going on. You're not going to be calm," Jared told lawmakers.

He said teachers in the Eugene 4J School District secluded him for minor behavior issues. Jared said it started when he was in first grade and continued until his mom, Jennifer, pulled him out of the district in the 4th grade.

Jared's mom said she requested seclusion room records from every school district in the state; only 8 responded.

Of those 8, kids were placed in seclusion rooms 791 times.

"The question I always go back to is, was there in those eight school districts 791 instances where a child was so dangerous that they had to be locked away? And if that's true, then there's a big problem in schools. If it's not true, then seclusion rooms are not being used the way they are supposed to be used," Harrison said.

Monday marked a small victory when House Bill 2756 passed the Senate. Now it heads to the governor's desk.

"A fantastic first step at starting to tackle this issue. I feel like its been especially beneficial for my son. It has been the best therapy for him to feel empowered about his experience," Harrison said.

A spokesperson for the Eugene 4J School District said the district does have seclusion rooms but they're only used in extreme cases. If the rooms don't fall under the new proposed guidelines, the district said, the district will make changes.

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