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Illinois State Board of Education takes emergency action on “seclusion rooms” in schools

ILLINOIS (WEEK) – The Illinois State Board released a press release Wednesday that they are taking emergency action on the use of isolated seclusion in schools.

This comes after a scathing report from the Chicago Tribune and Pro Publica, which detailed how these seclusion rooms have been misused statewide.

In the report there were some local districts mentioned. Of them were Woodford County Special Education Association, Illinois Valley Central 321, McLean County Unit 5, and Prairie City 170. Their data showed those districts put kids in time-outs without a documented safety concern.

The intent of these seclusion rooms is to isolate children who could be a threat to themselves or others, but the report showed many schools are using what are often called “quiet rooms,” for many other reasons.

The story spurred action by Governor JB Pritzker who said in a press release:

“I have directed ISBE to take immediate action to ban isolated seclusion in Illinois schools, investigate any case where isolated seclusion was used illegally in the past, and mandate strict reporting on any form of time-out moving forward. I also pledge to work closely with the General Assembly to take additional steps to codify these emergency rules and take any additional steps to protect all the children of this state.”

The Governor’s Office will also be filing complaints on behalf of all known cases of isolated seclusion. Pritzker’s office will require a report to be returned within 60 days of notification. Then, the ISBE will decide whether the school or other entity broke federal or state special education requirements.

State Superintendent, Dr. Carmen I. Ayala called the report, “appalling, inexcusable, and deeply saddening.”

ISBE said they will ban the use of isolated seclusion in any educational entity serving public school students. They will also put a new data collection plan in place about all instances of time-out, physical restraints, etc.

The ISBE also said it is against the law to use time-out or restraint as a form of punishment; saying it is only legal in certain crisis situations. They said they will take action against anyone violating those laws.

Here are the actions ISBE plans to make according to a news release Wednesday:

Molly Jirasek

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