Padded isolation booth used to confine special needs students

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LONGVIEW, Wash. - Some parents of students at a Longview school said they are horrified after learning that special needs children were confined to an isolation booth, a padded closet with no windows, a Plexiglass roof and two small peepholes.

 

Ana Bate said she heard about it from her 10-year-old son.

 

"'Mom, they have a box they're putting kids in at school," Bate said he told her. "He sat and listened to them cry the entire time he was in there. He didn't know what to do. He felt really bad. He was really sad."

 

She posted photos of the booth, at Longview's Mint Valley Elementary School, online. The photos went viral, earning comments like "medieval," "cruel," and "inhumane."

 

Another mother said her child, who has severe behavioral problems, is one of nine at the school whose parents have given authorities permission to use the booth.

 

She said people can't imagine what it's like to have a child with his behavior problems.

 

"I've had to restrain my child at home, and he head-butted me to the point that I had bruised ribs and couldn't breathe," said Jessica, who asked that her full name not be used.

 

Sometimes, she said, it's the only way to keep the kids from hurting others -- or themselves. She said sometimes, her son elects to go in there before he loses control.

 

"It calms him down and it decompresses him. It gives him a chance to let every bit of anger out. It's got padded walls. He can punch it; he can kick it," she said.

 

Other parents said they don't understand -- and their children never will.

 

"Even though he wasn't put in the box, it won't leave his head that they are being allowed to do it," said Bate.

 

KIRO 7 Eyewitness News asked to see the isolation booth. The school district said will show it to any parent of a student with disabilities, but they declined to show us.