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Seclusion Rooms In Schools, Even In Missouri, Get National Attention

May 21, 2009

Washington, D.C. – Testimony is taking place this week in Washington, D.C., regarding the use of seclusion rooms for students with disabilities - not only in Missouri, but across the country. Ange Hemmer has been vocal about the issue ever since her son was sent to a seclusion room numerous times in kindergarten in the Francis Howell School District.

From the passage of legislation in Missouri this year to the Congressional hearings, Hemmer says she's pleased the debate is creating awareness, but more needs to be done. For example, she urges teachers to get the training and support they need to help students with disabilities before they fail.

"We're trying to push forward that it's not just these kids who have these explosive behaviors and what do we do with them. It's everything that has to happen before we even get to that point."

In Missouri, the new legislation requires school districts to adopt clear policies regarding appropriate use of seclusion rooms and restraints.

Cathy Brown with the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities says that while the debate over seclusion rooms is just beginning in Washington, D.C., Missouri is ahead of the game by already trying to address this issue. Brown says there are better ways to handle disruptive behavior.

"When you remove the option of a certain intervention, such as using a seclusion room, you have to replace it with the tools for someone to intervene in a way that can result in a more positive outcome."

Missouri school districts have until the 2011 school year to adopt and implement the new policy.

Additional information is available from Cathy Brown with the Missouri Planning Council for Developmental Disabilities at 1-800-500-7878.

Heather Claybrook, Public News Service - MO