DENVER (KDVR) — An investigation into an alleged seclusion room at McAuliffe International School in Denver is now sparking questions about the proper use of seclusion in schools. 

The Colorado State Board of Education passed rules, based on state and federal law, that define how and when restraint and seclusion can be used in schools.

Paul Foster, executive director of the Exceptional Student Services Unit with the Colorado Department of Education, said the rules outline the procedures to be followed in the use of restraint and seclusion.

“Their job is to propagate rules that support the implementation of the legislation,” Foster said. “It’s pretty clear that it’s not to be used as a disciplinary technique, so it’s not really intended to change behavior, it’s meant to intervene in the situation where there’s an emergency.”

School seclusion rules in Colorado

While there’s no requirement that a school has a seclusion room, there are rules to follow if those types of rooms are implemented.  

“It has to have a window or a camera so students can be observed, has to be well-lit and well-ventilated,” Foster said.

The rules also state, “The room must be a safe space free of injurious items. The seclusion room must not be a room that is used by school staff for storage, custodial or office space.”

In the case a complaint is filed with the department around seclusion, Foster said they treat it just like any other complaint.

“In Colorado, we treat it just like a complaint a parent might file for a student with a disability,” Foster said. “If it is accepted, then we have 90 days to do the investigation and issue a decision. If we find there’s a discrepancy between what state law or state rules require and what actually happened on the ground, then we can order corrective actions that the district needs to engage in to correct or remedy the situation,” Foster said.

So far, Foster said there’s been no formal complaint filed with the Colorado Department of Education in regard to the alleged use of a seclusion room at McAuliffe.