State lawmakers propose regulations over school isolation rooms - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

State lawmakers propose regulations over school isolation rooms

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CBS 5 News was first to break the story a year ago about Valley schools using rooms the size of small closets to isolate misbehaving children.  It's something most parents didn't even know was happening, and now your state lawmakers are doing something about it.

"I think it probably happens quite a bit, and I think it's happening more often than it's being reported and recorded," said dad Eric Noyes.

CBS 5 News first introduced you to the Noyes family last February when they spoke out about their then-7-year-old son being put in a 5' by 5' padded room inside his Deer Valley elementary school to "cool down."

"My son has said he's been there anywhere from a few minutes to almost all day," his mom, Leslie Noyes said.

They spoke to CBS 5 in the hopes something would change. Now, it finally is.

"It's the first step in the right direction," Leslie Noyes said Thursday.

The bill is sponsored by freshman Republican Rep. Kelly Townsend.

"I have a disabled daughter myself, and when we were in orientation here a few months ago I actually learned about the situation (with the Noyes family) in Deer Valley.  I think as a mother, first of all, it's my instinct to want to protect our kids," Townsend said.

It's the first bill we've seen that would change the way things are done.  It requires schools get permission from parents before they use any kind of confinement.  Townsend said the next step would be to regulate the room's size and the length of time a child can be in one.

"It deserves our close attention to make sure we're doing it correctly," Townsend said.

"It's baby steps. It puts some restrictions and consistency around the use of these rooms which is the first step," Leslie Noyes said.

CBS 5 News reached out to Deer Valley to find out if the district has made any changes in the last year. They say they haven't and sent the following statement:

"The district remains focused on providing all students with the best educational experience. The safety of all students is important and remains a top priority in Deer Valley."

If approved, HB 2476 would go into effect in the 2013 school year. Townsend said she's going to meet with school administrators, lawmakers and parents of special needs children in the meantime to craft legislation to regulate even more next session.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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