RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- An advocacy group says several schools in Washoe County are using a form of punishment that's been outlawed by the state for years.
People First of Nevada presented the school board with an 11 page report last night showing the use of seclusion rooms, otherwise known as scream rooms. After reading People First's report, News 4 followed up with both sides. News 4 went to two schools today, one from the report and another a parent outside the group wrote us about, to see if reality matches the reports.
Tierstan, 9, has autism. Her mother, Melissa Hagblom, says Tierstan was put in a scream room at Caughlin Ranch Elementary about two years ago.
"She was talking to me one day and said that 'I was in a room by myself and I don't know why'," Hagblom says.
Hagblom says she doesn't know how many times it happened, but even once is too many.
"No child deserves to be locked in a scream room," Hagblom says.
With the help of an advocate, Hagblom says her family approached the school. Hagblom says she thinks Caughlin Ranch has addressed the issue since their complaint.
"We do believe that it was removed, that scream room, but we're not 100 percent sure," Hagblom says.
Multiple schools are mentioned in the 11 page report. Bud Beasley Elementary was mentioned several times, so News 4 went inside and talked to Principal Mary Ellen Arrascada. She says seclusion punishment isn't happening at her school.
"We always look for other ways to calm a child down and to redirect them to the task that they are working on, or try to find the reason they are upset," Arrascada says.
Arrascada says the pictures of the rooms used in the report by the advocacy group are of a room used for a library, not a place for punishment, and the doors don't even lock.
"Anyone who comes to the school would see that that's not what it's used for," Arrascada says. "It's used for the students to read their books."
Another woman contacted News 4, saying her son was put in what she calls a "white room" at Billinghurst Middle School for hours just last year, after her son was quote "horsing around" with another student. News 4 went to the school and saw the rooms. There are four near the main office. They all have windows and the doors don't lock. School officials say they're used for academic purposes like makeup tests, not punishment, but they didn't comment on this specific case.
The Washoe County School Board has requested a full staff report, and that item is on the agenda for their next meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 13 at 4 p.m. Board President Barbara Clark says the public is welcome, and they want any parents who have had problems with their students in seclusion rooms to contact them.