Iowa City public schools will stop using small, padded seclusion rooms by the start of the next school year.
The decision—announced Tuesday—comes after a state investigation found some improper use of these rooms and ordered the district to make changes. Schools use the rooms to temporarily isolate students who are at risk of harming themselves or others.
Iowa City Community School District Superintendent Stephen Murley says the district’s goal is to move away from using these tiny rooms for seclusion.
"What we are looking for is alternatives to the spaces that we have been using to provide that kind of seclusion when and if it’s necessary," Murley says. "There are many other options available to us on that continuum."
He says other options may include more effective use of existing spaces in the schools and possible creation of new spaces for dealing with behavior issues.
Murley says the rooms will be phased out before the next school year because they are still included in individualized education programs for some students.
"We’re hoping that over the course of the remainder of the year, in conjunction with our seclusion room and restraint task force, that we can continue to expand the options that we have to meet those children’s needs," Murley says.
He says seclusion rooms have already been removed from schools where no students have them written into their education plans.