Why does KIPP do padded rooms for kindergarteners and regular ed. students who have run-of-the-mill behavior problems? Calming rooms, in unique and very structured situations, might be justifiable for special education, but not regular ed. The justification for a padded room is that the student needs to be protected from self-injurious behavior or hurting others. Students with severe autistic tendencies, for example, might be restrained due to a meltdown, or if the child, themself, feels a meltdown coming on. But these are rare situations.
Special education classes for students with serious problems are often targeted as abusive—sometimes rightly so. How many newspaper articles do you remember where teachers get into serious legal problems, or are fired, due to student restraints? Such restraining practices should always be investigated.
Good special educators know that when they work with students with severe behavioral disabilities any restraining procedure should be considered with great care and approved by parents and others—experts, like school psychologists, school administrators, etc. and written up in an Individual Educational Plan. You never, ever, should employ the use of a padded room without parental written consent. And parents should clearly understand any such procedure that might be used. KIPP claims they got the green light with a psychologist’s and parental approval. We will see if any investigation is carried out.
I must add that children, if capable, must be included in the decision of using a calming room. If it creates panic it shouldn’t be used. There should be a non-breakable window. The room should not be locked, or a teacher should stand near and observe the child until they are released. A locked room is a fire hazard, and there have been instances where children were forgotten and left in the room much to long!
Padded rooms are controversial for obvious reasons. There is something unsavory about placing a student into one. It is reminiscent of the old state institutions. But one can find some justification when working with students who really would hurt themselves and/or others as long as safety procedures are followed.
But how many special education students does KIPP enroll? My guess is not many, if any. The KIPP student placed in the padded room either needed a real special education setting, or the KIPP teachers were overdoing punishment. My guess is it is the latter scenario.
But before everyone starts having hissy fits about KIPP, let me just chime in and say this. If you are going to have charter schools that do their own thing, that hire Teach for America students with little understanding of special education, and which ignore school board oversight due to so-called innovation, stuff like this is going to happen.
Those rules and regulations in place in traditional public schools, which used to include hiring credentialed educators, were designed for a purpose and the protection of children. If you decide those rules and regulations are bureaucratic baloney, then you need to accept that charter schools will push the envelope now and then with weirdo practices that aren’t scrutinized by the general public.
KIPP has already been in the papers about benching kids (put on the porch) for slight infractions. They have been known, even lauded, for dunce caps, group drill and clapping and eye-ball tracking. If the powers that be think this is normal education, then locking a kid in a padded room, where he gets so upset and pees on himself, might make waves today, but my guess is it will be forgotten tomorrow. Already comments can be found, in response to the Daily News article, trying to justify KIPP’s action.
Really, overall, this country has huge problems in the way it treats its children. The whole premise of education reform lies on “get tough” policies. That’s why, unfortunately, so many people like KIPP and the charter schools that are run like them.
Many believe if children don’t test well they are lazy and insubordinate. They accept that even the tiniest among them should sit in a seat all day working with no recess. I wonder how many breaks the KIPP child had included in his school day.
A child stepping out of line is a great fear of many, so they take away their play. They also stick them all in uniforms. In many places they punish them plenty, along with corporal punishment. These are the same folks who applaud hauling away children, even kindergartners, to jail. They insist upon strict draconian micromanagement of a child’s every move. Padded rooms? Eh! Just another notch on the behavioral ladder of manipulation.
It is truly laughable (sadly so) that all this is done in the guise of “high expectations.” It is nothing of the sort. It is no expectations at all—just control.