School board members said a number of staff at the school knew the room existed and even helped put students inside. In a news conference on Monday, board members said some staff have described it as an “incarceration room.”
Now, more whistleblowers are coming forward.
At least seven people have stepped forward to say a strictly forbidden type of seclusion room was being used at McAuliffe International, according to DPS School Board Vice President Auon’tai Anderson.
Now, the superintendent said starting this week he’s working to make sure this type of room is not used again at McAuliffe or any other room in the district.
“Multiple administrators would stand outside the door and hold it shut as the student would scream and try to destroy the room and try to get out. They would do this until the student would tire themselves out and possibly fall asleep from crying,” Anderson said.
DPS board members said it’s been confirmed that at least three students had been placed in the room, and there may be others.
“The whistleblower supplied multiple names of students they suspected were locked into the incarceration room on various occasions,” Anderson said.
What some are calling an “incarceration room” is formally called a seclusion room, and is strictly prohibited in DPS.
De-escalation rooms where accompanied students are placed are allowed, but students must be accompanied by an adult. Door locks are not allowed.
“If we are not framing this discussion about what happened to the children at McAuliffe as being wrong, we have a problem,” DPS Board Member Scott Esserman said.
DPS’s superintendent is now saying new training, review of protocols and monitoring of de-escalation rooms would be provided at McAuliffe.
An attorney for McAuliffe’s former school principal Kurt Dennis said he tried the door locks for a while, but they were taken off.
Now, FOX31 is hearing another room was allegedly used to hold at least one student as well.
“At least on one occasion said room was used, and an employee office room, involuntarily by preventing, by holding the door from the outside,” DPS Superintendent Alex Marrero said.
DPS board members Anderson and Esserman said the school’s current interim principal, as well as others, knew about the room and allowed its use too.
Marrero said he’s starting the new training programs for the staff at McAuliffe before students return to school next week.