Second 'seclusion cell' bill awaits governor's signature

Second 'seclusion cell' bill awaits governor's signature »Play Video

BEAVERTON, Ore. - The Oregon Senate has unanimously passed a second bill addressing the use of so-called 'seclusion cells' in public schools.

Last month, lawmakers passed a bill banning free standing seclusion cells and this second bill, which is awaiting the governor's signature, will basically make the ban permanent.

We've been tracking one family's situation in Beaverton and contacted her to see if any progress has been made at her son's school.

Martha LaMarche said she was floored when she learned that her autistic son, who doesn't really speak, had been put in a seclusion cell at his school more than 20 times without her knowledge.

Staff members at the boy's school, Greenway Elementary, said he was biting, scratching and hitting teachers but LaMarche said she never signed off on her son being put into a room all by himself.

LaMarche wrote the school district three weeks ago and demanded that her son not be placed in the room. At the time, the school district's special education director told KATU they had no plans to stop using the room and if a parent was adamant about the issue, they should look for a different school. The school district has 16 seclusion cells throughout its schools.

Although we have not heard back from the Beaverton School District about LaMarche's concerns, the Beaverton mom did tell us that changes are happening.

"The district has been really responsive in our request," LaMarche said. "Things are happening at a rapid pace, which we're really happy with. We're getting behavior plans created, speech plans created and I feel much better about the situation."

LaMarche said at the very least these types of rooms should have padded walls since there are kids, like her son, who are known to bang their heads against walls and floors as a result of their condition.


KATU's investigation into seclusion rooms all began with a news tip from a viewer. If you have a story for the investigators, email them at investigators@katu.com.