DENVER (KDVR) — The investigation into the alleged use of a seclusion room for students at McAuliffe International School in Denver has sparked new questions about the appropriate way to handle violent students in schools.
There are many perspectives on this controversial topic.
Denver Public Schools does allow the use of a de-escalation room in some circumstances, but it does not allow the use of a seclusion room where a student is locked in a room by themselves until they can calm down.
“Under no circumstances is seclusion a permissible intervention,” said DPS School Board member Scott Esserman.
That is the accusation at McAuliffe.
“What occurred with these students was not right and cannot be justified,” Esserman said.
Many in the community agree.
“We at the Greater Metro Denver Ministerial Alliance stand against any kind of confinement for students anywhere,” said Bishop Jerry Demmer.
But others wonder how violent students should be handled instead.
Tony Uva says he is a substitute teacher in local school districts and has faced violent students.
“I’ve been in schools where I’ve had a chair thrown at me by a sixth grader. Another kid, sixth grade, threatened to beat me up,” Uva said.
“The question in the mind of the teacher, at least me, is what do you do when a kid gets violent, and that violence can not only hurt that kid, but can hurt the other kids in the class, or can hurt a teacher or administrator,” he said.
In the past, he has called security about violent students.
“If they are really out of control, they have to be put in a room so that the security people even are not injured, and you have to watch the kid. You don’t walk away. You continue to watch that kid,” he said.
The issue is getting the attention of Kwame Spearman, a candidate for the DPS School Board at large.
“I think we should be mindful of what we just experienced with the SRO debate,” he said. “Schools need rooms in which they can de-escalate situations in their respective classrooms. Now these rooms have to be properly supervised, they should not have locks outside the doors, and they should be done in coordination with parents, teachers and administrators.”