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.