Advocacy group says Washoe County schools still using outlawed punishment

Reported by: Ashley Cullins
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Updated: 7/23/2013 11:40 pm
RENO, Nev. (KRNV & MyNews4.com) -- A special needs advocacy group presented a disturbing report to the Washoe County School Board Tuesday night. The group, PEOPLE First of Nevada, says schools in the district are still using seclusion rooms - a practice that was made illegal by the state in 1999.

In the 11 page report, the group claims at least 13 schools in the Washoe County School District continued to use seclusion - or scream - rooms after the law changed.

21-year-old Christopher Ripke was among the members who spoke to the school board Tuesday. He said he was sent to a scream room nearly every day in 6th grade, several years after the law made it illegal. 

It's a practice he said the school board needs to make sure the district stops.

"Number one, it's illegal," Ripke said. "Number two, there's no significant change in the children who are placed in there. The become more afraid to go to school."

According to the state law, seclusion rooms - or scream rooms - were used as a way to punish students with a disability to eliminate reduce or discourage bad behavior. The group said in many cases these rooms are no larger than a closet.

"Some of these students that have been locked in these rooms have been locked in for hours, and parents have not been notified." Stephen Schumacher said.

School officials said the Board of Trustees has requested a full staff report on this issue. The item is scheduled to be on their agenda at the next meeting. 

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