Stop the seclusion room at Farmington STEAM Academy

Stop the seclusion room at Farmington STEAM Academy

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Sarah Veliz started this petition to Parents and

The Farmington Board of Education recently approved a 30k budget to build a seclusion room at Farmington STEAM Academy. This room is intended to be used for students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but can also be used for any student who is deemed to “need” it.  Seclusion rooms are small padded or rubberized rooms with a small window in the door.  A student would be forced to remain in the room against their will and often alone. This is often when a child is in crisis, and is done to them by an adult that they trust. In “Autism isn’t a crime” by Jennifer Lee Todd, "Meltdowns are a non-volitional neurological event, not a volitional temper tantrum. De-escalation is late in the game. The focus must be on preventing escalation by listening to the child, and responding to their needs.”  Many organizations, including the ACLU, are opposed to this practice as it causes harm and trauma to students. School should be a place of safety for all students - placing a student in crisis alone in a seclusion room can cause trauma and have lasting negative mental health consequences. Also according to Tidd, “Behaviorism is a denial of personhood and escalated a child because it ignored the circumstances causing behaviors, which are a signal.”


According to the Department of Education, students with disabilities represent only 12% of school enrollment yet 71% of those subject to restraint and 66% subject to seclusion. These policies also disproportionately impact students of color: Although African American students make up 15.5% of student enrollment, they account for 22.4% of students subject to seclusion.  This statistic shows evidence that these rooms are being used for African American students at a higher rate than other students. 


In the article “Rhode Island Advocate to Testify in Congress on Impact on Restraint and Seclusion in Son with Autism” released by the ARC, it tells the story of Dillon, a child who was repeatedly restrained and secluded. “Far too many times, Dillon was restrained and dragged into the “blue space” – a walled and padded area, with a small opening with a pad cover to keep a child from leaving the space. Again and again, situations escalated to the point where 9-1-1 was called, and if Dillon’s parents didn’t arrive before the ambulance, he would be taken alone to the hospital. The repeated trauma of restraint and seclusion, the threat of going to the hospital, and continued interruptions to his education were having a major impact on Dillon and his family.  Dillon’s work avoidance, we now know, was in direct reaction to the restraint and seclusion he was experiencing. The more he was restrained and secluded, the less he was interested in school work, which resulted in more restraint and seclusion, a constant downward spiral. It broke my heart when Dillon told us that he no longer trusted any of the adults in that school. Without the school working with us to change this dynamic, we had to do something – we found another public school with a different approach,” said Smith.”

Children are often not put in this room willingly and do not understand what is happening. This is a terrifying experience.  Many studies show this causes lifelong trauma. Why would our school system consider adding an intervention that causes lifelong trauma for some of their most vulnerable students?  It has been requested that they use this funding to create a safe sensory space where students in crisis can stay with a trusted adult until they are no longer in crisis. This request was denied. We would like FSA to receive training on how to handle a child in crisis safely, but not in a way that causes trauma to the child. There is an abundance of literature that exists describing how to do this. In addition, there are 5 states that have made it illegal to use this type of room in schools. FSA is supposed to be a place of innovation - where students are safe and supported.  Why is an intervention being considered that isn’t even legal in some states?  FSA should be an environment where educators follow new research and trends in education, rather than outdated and harmful practices. 

The Alliance Against Seclusion and Restraint has an overwhelming amount of information and research on why these practices are outdated and harmful to students, along with many alternative safe and non-traumatic interventions. These resources can be found at www.endseclusion.org Please help us create a safe and supportive environment for all students at FSA by signing this petition. 

0 have signed. Let’s get to 2,500!
At 2,500 signatures, this petition is more likely to get picked up by local news!