I9 UPDATE: CR Schools task force recommends continued use of seclusion rooms

Published: Jan. 22, 2018 at 5:39 PM CST
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The Cedar Rapids Community School District has completed their internal review that looked into the district's use of seclusion and restraint and I9 has obtained the report.

Seclusion rooms are small confined spaces some districts use when a student is having a violent outburst. The Iowa Department of Education is currently conducting its own investigation into Cedar Rapids Schools. It was launched back in November after a five-month-long I9 investigation uncovered Cedar Rapids Schools wasn't following state and federal guidelines concerning seclusion and restraint.

I9 was able to get a copy of the report after filing an Iowa Open Records request. The school district's "Seclusion/Restraint Task Force" created it. A spokesperson for the district tells I9 the group is made up of in-part parents, school administrators, and behavior specialists.

The task force has been working to compile recommendations on how the district should use seclusion and restraint since August. It was back in July I9 first reported Pierce Elementary School staff locked a crying 3rd grader in an electrical utility closet during the academic year. That was a room the district later said was not appropriate for seclusion.

The task force report stands behind the use of seclusion rooms, calling them places that enable "students in a crisis to safely de-escalate." The report says schools should use those rooms as a last resort and the goal should be to reduce their use. The report also includes several recommendations that include greater parent involvement, more documentation, along with audits that will monitor goals for decreasing seclusions and restraints.

The task force will present its report to the school board next month. The report says the district should implement the task force's recommendations next school year. I9 invited the district to take part in an interview but they made no one available.