Local schools use isolation rooms to help calm special ed students

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) -- Eric Exline with the Meridian School District showed us one of the "calming rooms" used by elementary school special education students -- and he stresses it's never, ever used as punishment.

"I really think the misconception is that this is not a place that you lock naughty kids in," Exline said. "This is a place where you put kids who need the opportunity to calm down, to not harm themselves or others until they get to the point they can come back to the classroom and have a successful school day."

Exline says the padded room is never locked and always used with parental consent to calm children with behavior and emotional difficulties, a small percentage of the student population.

An adult supervisor is always present.

The Meridian School District says unlocked, padded rooms like the one we saw are common in school throughout the United States, but the public's knowledge of them may not be commonplace.

And the Meridian School District's calming room bears little resemblance to the so-called isolation booth used by a public school in Washington state that's generating a Facebook furor.

Exline says the calming rooms known as "time out rooms" in the Boise School District help children with special needs participate in a mainstream education.