Isolated seclusion will no longer be allowed in Illinois schools…this comes after a bombshell investigation revealed high levels of abuse and misuse of isolation techniques in schools across the state. The abuse was so concerning to the Governor, the state is banning isolation rooms until further notice.
On Tuesday, the Chicago Tribune and Pro Publica Illinois published a scathing report that accused schools statewide for misusing isolation rooms. The rooms are designed for students who could harm themselves or others. But the Tribune found that they were also used for things as small as talking out of turn or not doing classwork , which is illegal.
The report mentions three local districts which have documented use of seclusion rooms: Illinois Valley Central District 321, Woodford County Special Education Association, and McLean County’s Unit 5.
Using district data, the tribune found at IVC, 70 percent of isolated timeouts were not triggered by a safety concern. The same is true for 58 percent of isolated timeouts in Woodford County. The Tribune’s data also shows three percent of isolation did not follow a safety concern at Unit 5.
Unit 5 issued a statement addressing the report, saying in part: “We are confident that the use of our time-away rooms fell within the scope of the law…. Our students are not placed in these rooms for punishment…” The district also claims assumptions were made in the article, saying they believe 100 percent of their use of isolation fell within state guidelines.
Woodford County also issued a statement on the use of isolation rooms, “…we have reviewed our practices and will continue to analyze data on significant behavioral incidents to ensure that we are best meeting the needs of students…We have taken action to implement new procedures to comply with those regulations and will fully cooperate with ISBE on providing further data and information.”
While the Board of Education investigates the alleged misuse of the rooms, schools will have to do supervised timeouts instead of isolation, in an unlocked room.