Wash. state school removes controversial isolation booth

LONGVIEW, Wash. A Longview school has removed a controversial booth that was used to isolate special education students to prevent them from hurting themselves or others.

School district spokeswoman Sandy Catt says the booth was removed over the weekend from Mint Valley Elementary School.

She also told KLOG-AM the district has decided to use an independent company to investigate how the padded booth was being used, and that might take longer than the few weeks originally expected.

The school stopped using the booth after a photo posted on Facebook raised concerns it was being used as punishment. Catt said they use the room with eight or nine special education students to help calm them down, and most students used it voluntarily to control emotional behavior.

Catt said students whose parents gave permission were placed in the booth when they acted in a way that could be harmful to themselves or others. None of those parents ever complained, Catt said.

KATU News first reported about the isolation booth last week.

One mother whose son used to go to Mint Valley Elementary told KATU News the school put her son in the booth without her permission.

Candace Dawson said her son does have behavioral problems, but she would never allow the school to put her son in that room.

State laws in Washington and Oregon allow schools to use "seclusion" or "isolation" rooms under specific circumstances, and only when every other way of dealing with a child who is a danger to himself or others has failed.

Catt says the school is working with parents of special education students on other control methods.