A Duval County public school in Jacksonville, Florida, reportedly placed special needs children in “discipline boxes” partially made with drywall.
Parents of a boy with cerebral palsy who was 3 years old when he was allegedly contained in the box have filed a lawsuit against Love Grove Elementary School. The 37-page lawsuit alleges that teachers at the school systematically abused children with special needs. It further states that children were regularly isolated by teachers who placed them in “discipline boxes” for misbehaving.
The lawsuit alleges that the school doesn’t have a proper policy to train teachers who look after and supervise special needs children. It also states that the school district also failed to supervise its teachers and staff.
The mother of the child explained that students called the boxes “jail boxes.” The minute a child was sent to “jail,” they would know that it was some sort of a punishment.
The family also claimed that the school was aware of the mistreatment and the presence of “discipline boxes” but it took no steps to stop the heinous act.
“I represent a family where a child had been placed in the box. Again, not a valid behavioral technique,” said attorney Aaron Bates.
When reached out for a comment, Dr. Nikolai Vitti, the school’s spokesperson, said it is the district’s policy not to comment on active lawsuits. However, he explained that they are looking into the matter and is also checking if the “boxes” still exist.
“I think you have to look at every individual situation and what are the facts of the situations. I think when you look at the way we serve [special needs] students, we’ve made huge strides over the last four years,” added Vitti.
As KPTV reports, “The lawsuit says between August 2011 and June 2012 there were 304 instances of seclusion on 120 students with nearly 70% of those students having emotional behavior disorders. The lawsuit also claims staff forced the student’s legs into the wrong braces, twisting his feet and causing bruising, sores and bleeding.”
The mother of the child involved in the lawsuit took a photo of the “jail box” inside a classroom in 2012.
Case/photo is from from 2012. Alleges district does not have proper policies in place for special needs teachers. pic.twitter.com/FuUnZiK5Ad— Cole Heath (@ColeANjax) April 11, 2017
Parents claim school used discipline box on special-needs students https://t.co/7P2hK8dvEs— Liz Quirantes (@lizquirantes) April 13, 2017