Iowa City schools to end use of seclusion rooms

IOWA CITY — The leader of Iowa City public schools says the district’s use of small, padded rooms for students will come to an end by the start of the next school year. The decision, announced this week, comes after a state investigation found some improper use of these rooms.

Iowa City Schools Superintendent Stephen Murley says the district’s goal is to move away from using the so-called seclusion rooms. “What we are looking for, however, is alternatives to the spaces that we have been using to provide that kind of seclusion when and if it’s necessary,” Murley said. “There are many other options available to us on that continuum.”

Schools in Iowa City have used the tiny rooms to temporarily isolate students who are considered at risk of harming themselves or others. According to Murley, the rooms will be phased out – rather than shut down immediately – because they’re still included in individualized education programs for some students. “We’re hoping that over the course of the remainder of the year, in conjunction with our seclusion room and restraint task force, that we can continue to expand the options that we have to meet those children’s needs,” Murley said.

The other options may include more effective use of existing spaces in the schools and possible creation of new spaces for dealing with behavior issues. Murley said seclusion rooms have already been removed from some schools where no students have them written into their education plans.

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