SILVER CREEK – Parents who say their children were placed in a “isolation room” at a Chautauqua County Elementary School are speaking out and now calling for an independent investigation into the alleged abuse.
On Wednesday, Jay Hall, Assistant Principal at Silver Creek Elementary School, published his concerns in a letter to the District’s Board of Education, which was later posted online.
Five students, whose names were redacted, were “inhumanely and illegally locked or barricaded in an isolation cell” within the elementary school, according to Hall.
District Superintendent Todd Crandall says the school has launched an investigation into the allegations. However parents, who gathered at a Silver Creek Daycare to express their concerns Thursday night, feel the school will not be impartial and plan to launch their own probe into the matter, with help from Attorney Thomas Eoannou.
“You come to my office, nothing to do with Mr. Hall. I’ll pay for the investigator, you bring your kids down, and we’ll get every single kid who has been stuck in that room, and we’ll show you there’s a room,” assured Eoannou.
Hall has since been put on administrative leave by the school district, after he contacted parents of the children who had been locked up.
“I just learned within the past two weeks of the level of concern raised in that letter,” explained District Superintendent Todd Crandall when reached by telephone Wednesday night. “I began working with administration to review our protocols and our practices, I was not aware of all of the details in the letter, or the allegations.”
Kristina Kwaizer, mother to a seven-year-old diagnosed with ADHD who was put in the “cell,” calls Hall’s administrative leave a “cover up” move by the school.
“With ADHD he loves small spaces when it’s his choice, when it’s someone else’s choice, I guarantee he doesn’t like it,” said Kwaizer.
The mother continued that her son jumped out of a first story window to avoid being locked in the room, where he was barricaded in, and only allowed to leave to use the bathroom. The first grader had been locked in the room the entire school day, and was denied lunch, she says.
Kwaizer is not the only one speaking out, Tiffany and Dewayne Farley, parents to five-year-old Joseph, say their child’s sensory issues drove them to choose the district, as they were assured they could accommodate his needs.
“They would lock my kid in a cubicle that looks like a jail cell. It’s concrete walls, there is a bed in there but the bed was not there when my son was locked in there kicking and screaming and pounding,” explains Farley.
Though the school denies the existence of the room, Farley was told any actions were taken in a disciplinary manner. The Superintendent has said something like this would never happen at the school.
“I don’t believe him, because it was brought to us that Mr. Hall went to the Superintendent and he said it would never happen again,” says Farley. “And in the following week my child was placed in the isolation room again.”
Parents agreed that all those involved in the “isolation cell” should be terminated and have their state licenses to teach removed, and that Mr. Hall should be reinstated. Many also called for state police to get involved in the case.
WNY News Now’s Justin Gould and Jackson Hickey contributed to this report.