'He was enclosed in a concrete seclusion room'

EUGENE, Ore. -- Laura Brown's 5-year-old-son Lucas has developmental issues. He was in a special needs program at Danebo Elementary School in Eugene until she pulled him out last month.

Brown told KVAL News that during one school day in October she was told to pick up her son from school. She arrived to find her son inside of what she described as a prison cell-like seclusion room.

"He was enclosed in a concrete seclusion room, about seven feet long, four feet wide. Concrete walls, concrete floor. Metal door with a window in it." said Brown.

Brown said she found Lucas screaming and crying inside.

Brown recalls that the school told her Lucas ran into the room by himself. Brown said that even if her son chose to enter the room on his own accord, it doesn't change the way she feels.

"I don't think rooms like that should be allowed. I don't think they should be allowed in public schools." said Brown.

Seclusion rooms are not a secret in Oregon public schools. In May, an 80-page manual was published by the Oregon Department of Education as a guide and technical assistance to the use of physical restraint and seclusion in public schools.

Michael Mahoney, Safety and Healthy Schools Coordinator for the Oregon Department of Education, told KVAL News that a seclusion room could be any room that isolates children from other students.

"Seclusion is only used as the last, last, last resort. Other methods didn't work. And now we want the student to be alone and prevent them from leaving until the regain control of themselves," said Mahoney.

Jeffrey Sprague is a professor and co-director of the Violence and Behavior Institute in the College of Education at the University of Oregon and studies seclusion and restraint. He said seclusion should not be used as an intervention. He added that those implementing the seclusion should not only be trained, but monitored as well.

"The caveat is in a lot of typical school settings, and this is not a complaint about schools, the monitoring, the support, the training is not supported and that's when the doors are open to abuse of the procedure," said Sprague.

Sprague said there should also be a carefully written and designed planned for the student as well as external monitoring of the situation, data collection and notifying parents of seclusion before it occurs.