DIGITAL EXCLUSIVE: Mother speaks out against exclusion rooms in IL schools

Local News

Amber Patz’s son Dalton went to Blackhawk Area Special Education District after being advised to transfer from Riverdale.

“You really wanna think that you’re finally making the right choice and then things are gonna level out, and then for it all to backfire like that…to find that your child that already has struggles socially, academically.”

Dalton has oppositional defiant disorder, which means he may not always cooperate with directions.

Dalton said he was sent to the seclusion room often, but Amber Patz says she was only told that he was sent, not why.

Dalton went to Blackhawk Area Special Education Center until one trip to the school’s seclusion room escalated.

“This was by Dalton’s description of what happened because I wasn’t able to get accurate information from the school itself,” Patz said. “Is that she said ‘if he tries to kick me, I’m going to pinch him.’ They transport them, one on each arm.”

Dalton was pinched by the transporting staff member while being taken to the seclusion room.

“Any kid that’s going to one of these rooms after we know exactly what they are, is going to fight, any adult would fight these things.”

But change may be on the way for children subjected to this.

Wednesday, the Illinois Education Association condemned the use of seclusion rooms as a punishment.

IEA president Kathi Griffin said “Seclusion takes safety out of the mix and adds fear and torment. Plywood and cement walls are a ‘cell’, not a room meant to provide safety and support.”

We reached out to the Blackhawk Area Special Education District for comment and they sent this statement:

“The intent of all behavioral intervention is to change student behavior in a positive, affirming way. We review de-escalation practices with staff regularly and with certified trainers at least quarterly. Two weeks ago our staff participated in a training and review of the Illinois Administrative Code on Restraint and Seclusion.

We are also committed to maintaining accurate and complete records to promote transparency and partnership with parents as we work with students who have behavioral challenges.

Christan Schrader,
Director of Special Education

Patz has since moved her son to another school that handles children with behavioral disorders.

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