State should adopt standards on physical discipline and timeout rooms in schools

According to the Des Moines Register,

A proposal before the state Board of Education would limit how and when teachers can lock up children and would ban risky methods of restraint, including chokeholds.

Teachers also would be trained to use “positive” alternatives, such as talking through disputes with children.

These proposed rules were probably inspired by media coverage of horrendous misuses of timeout rooms in the Waukee Community School District. After news of those incidents emerged last August, I talked with an acquaintance who pulled her son out of a Waukee elementary school because of a similarly inappropriate use of timeout rooms for discipline.

The Register reports that

studies have shown teachers confine students [to timeout rooms] for the wrong reasons.

A James Madison University survey of teachers at one Minnesota school found that teachers were more likely to lock up children for minor misbehavior.

“Without any guidance and policies, they make very poor choices, and kids suffer the consequences of it,” said Joseph Ryan, a Clemson University professor who worked on the 2004 survey.

The rules to be considered by the State Board of Education would force teachers to keep records of how timeout rooms are used, and would also stipulate that educators

– Can’t hold a child face down or otherwise use force that hampers a child’s ability to breathe.

– Must provide “continuous” supervision of children in timeout rooms.

– Must get permission from an administrator to confine a child for longer than an hour.

– Can’t lock up or restrain children for “minor infractions.”

– Can lock the door of a timeout room only if they hold the lock in position, or the lock automatically releases when school alarms go off or power is cut off.

– Must use timeout rooms that are safe and suitable for children of varying sizes, ages and conditions.

I am not an expert on appropriate discipline for special-needs children, but those guidelines sound much more reasonable than what I have read about the way some schools have used the timeout rooms in the past.

Members of the public can submit comments on the proposed rules until 4:30 pm on July 8. The address to which those comments should be sent is after the jump.

There will also be public hearings on July 8 to discuss the rules, and details about where and when they’ll be held are after the jump.

Iowans can weigh in on a state proposal that would limit the use of “timeout” rooms and physical force in schools.

– Written comments will be taken until 4:30 p.m. July 8.

Mail them to:

Thomas Mayes, legal consultant

Bureau of Student and Family Support Services

Iowa Department of Education

Third Floor, Grimes State Office Building

Des Moines, IA 50319-0146

(515) 242-5614

Or e-mail them to:

Or fax them to: (515) 242-6019.

– Iowans also can weigh in during a public hearing on July 8. The hearing will be broadcast via the Iowa Communications Network from 1 to 3 p.m. Here’s a list of remote sites:

Keystone Area Education Agency 1

1400 Second St. N.W.

Elkader, IA 52043

Green Valley Area Education Agency 14

Turner Room

1405 N. Lincoln

Creston, IA 50801

North Iowa Area Community College

Room 106

Activity Center

500 College Drive

Mason City, IA 50401

Northwest Area Education Agency 12

Room 206

1520 Morningside Ave.

Sioux City, IA 51106

Department of Education

Grimes State Office Building, Second Floor

400 E. 14th St.

Des Moines, IA 50314

Grant Wood Area Education Agency 10

Revere Room

4401 Sixth St. S.W.

Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Loess Hills Area Education Agency 13

24997 Iowa Highway 92

Council Bluffs, IA 51502

Pocahontas Area High School

205 2nd Ave. N.W.

Room 101

Pocahontas, IA 50574

Southern Prairie Area Education Agency 15

2814 N. Court St.

Ottumwa, IA 52501

Mississippi Bend AEA 9

Louisa Room

729 21st St.

Bettendorf, IA 52722

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