GREELEY, Colo. (KDVR) — There’s a function for seclusion rooms though it is not a common practice at every school according to school psychologist and University of Northern Colorado professor, David Hulac.
“I don’t know what the factors were,” Hulac said of seclusion rooms. “I would just say as a general best practice I don’t recommend and don’t prefer it.”
A whistleblower reported an “incarceration room” at McAuliffe Middle School in the Denver Public Schools system.
“It’s typically not normal, what I would say, to have a lock on a seclusion room,” Hulac said.
As a disciplinary measure, seclusion is a practice exercised by some educators and school systems.
“Being put into a separate room for a timeout is always going to have effect on a kid,” Hulac said.
That effect is meant to be balanced with support from educators for the student in a quiet space, Hulac said, but a lock on the door could affect the process.
“What the locks can encourage an adult to do is to leave alone the child alone without supervision,” Hulac said.
FOX31 asked a number of school districts around the metro if they use seclusion rooms, but only two responded to our questions.
Boulder Valley School District has what it calls “sensory and de-escalation spaces,” but 27J does not employ the use of seclusion rooms.
The overall intent, Hulac said, is to bring the student back from an outburst or an emotional episode so they can carry on doing what students do — learn.
“They should be observed, supported, supervised at all times,” Hulac said.
In the end, for some educators, a seclusion room is used, the question is how.
“How will we get the child to that room, how long will we use that room and how will we help the kid return back to the general classroom so that they can be part of the general milieu of kids,” Hulac said.
In general terms, Hulac said most schools are safer when students are taught strategies for coping and maintaining healthy relationships.
Despite the stigma about safety in schools, Hulac said school is still the safest place for any student.