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Getting away from it all

Posted: Tuesday, Apr 16th, 2013

photo by Jon Stinnett School psychologist Jen Burt showcases one of Bohemia Elementary's "sensory rooms" and the tent and tunnel that are often used to de-escalate dangerous behavior there.

Recently, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signed into law House Bill 2756, legislation that aims to force the state’s schools to stop using free-standing, self-contained “seclusion cells.” The bill passed with overwhelming support in both the state House and Senate, with supporters arguing that the use of the so-called “seclusion cells” can be traumatic for students.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Sara Gelser, a Democrat from Corvallis, told the “Oregonian” that she believes the bill would shut down four units at Portland Public Schools’ Pioneer School, a program exclusively for students with disabilities. It is unsure exactly how many districts will be affected by the bill’s passage, however, as the new law does not regulate rooms used to isolate students that are not free-standing.

Here in Cottage Grove, Chad Hamilton, one of South Lane School District’s Special Services Coordinators along with David Bascue, told the Sentinel that the new law “would not apply here at South Lane.”

Hamilton said the District uses “diverse options of programming for students with extreme behaviors,” including classrooms that focus more heavily on behavior, and occasionally placement outside the District for problem students.

Hamilton did state that all of the District’s elementary schools have “sensory centers” in their special education classrooms for those students who may occasionally require a “sensory break,” which he said is common for students, particularly those on the Autism spectrum.

“There are room dividers there for privacy, but there are no separate rooms or cells,” Hamilton said.

For the complete article see the 04-17-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 04-17-2013 paper.

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