Society

Florida and Ohio Schools Locking Disabled Students in Seclusion Rooms for Punishment

| by Michael Allen

Locking a child or an adult in a room against their will is usually called "false imprisonment" and is a felony. However, in Florida and Ohio it's perfectly legal for schools to imprison children, even those with disabilities.

Ohio and Florida schools are using a procedure called 'seclusion,' which involves locking children in rooms, closets or offices, even without parental knowledge or consent.

Seclusion is used on children who misbehave, but also on disabled students who cannot control themselves.

NPR and the Columbus Dispatch found that Ohio school districts used seclusion about 4,200 times during the 2009–2010 school year, and 60 percent of the 4,200 times were students with disabilities.

In Florida, 28 school districts used seclusion. There were 969 total uses of seclusion in Florida. The Sunshine State does not separate students with disabilities from misbehaving students.

In response, Florida State Rep. Eddy Gonzalez introduced a bill this year that would stop schools from secluding students and limit schools to physically restraining students with a disability only if there is “imminent risk of serious injury or death to student or others,” but the bill died in March.