JOHNSTON — The Iowa Department of Education is holding meeting across the state to get input input on the appropriate use of seclusion rooms and restraints in schools.
The State Board of Education held a hearing on proposed new rules in August and ended up voting them down in a procedural move to allow them to get more input to make changes without having to start the process all over again.
During a meeting in Johnston, Norwalk director of student services Eric Neessen asked for more flexibility. “We’re really putting teachers between a rock and a hard place if we’re saying, okay you can’t do this but at the same time we expect you to maintain safety for all kids,” Neesen says.
Others are pushing for a stricter definition to make sure the rooms are a last resort for schools. Daniel Zeno is the policy director for the ACLU of Iowa — which is one of the groups asking for changes. “How do we make sure kids aren’t being put in seclusion rooms, in restraint, for minor incidences. That doesn’t mean you don’t address minor incidences. You do. You just don’t put kids in seclusion rooms for those things,” Zeno says.
The size of seclusion rooms and how quickly parents are notified when they are used are some other issues state education officials hope to get more input on. A meeting was held in Cedar Rapids on Thursday.
Here are the dates and times for the other meetings:
Tuesday, October 1
Prairie Lakes Area Education Agency – Pocahontas
North and South Twin Lakes Conference Rooms
500 NE 6th St., Pocahontas
Wednesday, October 2
Central Rivers Area Education Agency – Cedar Falls
Conference Room B
1521 Technology Parkway, Cedar Falls
Thursday, October 3
Ottumwa Community School District
812 Chester Ave, Ottumwa