– Parents Furious Over Apparent Use Of ‘Scream Rooms’ Inside Middletown, Conn. Elementary School (CBS News, Jan. 11, 2012):
MIDDLETOWN, Conn. – Parents in a Connecticut suburb are outraged over disturbing disciplinary actions at a local elementary school.
They claim students are being locked in unsupervised “scream rooms,” where some children have harmed themselves, reports CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez.
The Middleton School District is on the hot seat as furious parents are demanding to know what’s going on behind closed doors at Farm Hill Elementary School.
“My daughter is telling me that there’s kids being taken out in ambulances, by stretcher,” parent Sean Archer told CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez on Wednesday.
Disturbing allegations have surfaced of teachers locking students in closet-sized concrete “scream rooms” for punishment.
“Kids come home and they cry, because they’re afraid to go to school. And it’s often,” parent Brian Robillard said.
“She can hear the kids screaming at the top of their lungs, while she’s trying to read and she asks her teacher what’s going on and they never give her an answer. They tell her to ignore it,” said Liz Archer, the sister of one Farm Hill student.
Parents said their children have witnessed teachers placing unruly students into the tiny “time-out” rooms to calm down.
“From what I heard it’s more traumatizing for the child than it was as a help,” parent Jeff Daniels said. “Kids were hitting their heads on the concrete wall. Kids were urinating in the room.”
School Superintendent Michael Freschette said allegations of children harming themselves in the timeout rooms are not true. However, the Board of Education is investigating. The chairman spoke to CBS 2’s Sanchez by phone Wednesday night.
“We certainly are concerned with these allegations and I’m looking into every single one of them to be certain that our staff is providing a safe environment for our students,” Gene Nocera said.
Two “time-out” rooms were implemented two years ago for special needs students. But with growing community concern about their use, the school district drafted a new support plan to deal with students who act up.
“I can tell you, students across the board in that school are not safe right now. They’re not learning,” parent Tricia Bielan said.
While the school district has proposed a support plan to handle student behavior problems, it does want parents’ input. Parents can voice their opinions at a meeting at the school Thursday night.
The state Office of Protection and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities and the state Child Advocate are now investigating the school’s use of “time-out” rooms.