SILVER CREEK – A Chautauqua County School accused of using an “isolation room” as a form of punishment towards student outbursts is responding, calling the allegations made “utterly false.”
Last week, 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.
The district, who has an ongoing investigation into allegations that they “inhumanely and illegally locked or barricaded” students in an “isolation cell” within the school says the claims are far from the truth.
In a statement Monday afternoon, Superintendent Todd Crandall confirmed use of a “de-escalation room,” but not to the extent outlined by Hall’s concerns.
“The District does not now, nor has it ever used an isolation cell, nor has it ever locked a child in a room alone,” said Crandall. “The District does utilize a de-escalation room. This is a widely accepted method of addressing the needs of children who simply require some time alone in a quiet place to gather their thoughts and composure so that they are able to safely re-join their peers in the classroom.”
He goes on to say that the method is widely accepted in New York, addressing the needs of children who simply require time in a quiet place to gather their thoughts, and composure, before returning to class.
“It is by no means intended, nor has it ever been used as a form of punishment or have any negative implications,” he continued. “The New York State Education Department authorizes the use of such rooms in its regulations.”
During a town-hall style meeting last Thursday, several parents came forward claiming their child was locked in the room, an act Superintendent Crandall denies.
“The room DOES NOT lock from the inside. A person CANNOT be locked in the room,” wrote Crandall. “The Erie-2 BOCES Coordinator of Health and Safety inspected the room today (April 4, 2022) and confirmed that the room is safe. Likewise, the Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Chief inspected the room earlier today and confirmed that it meets all applicable fire codes and regulations.”
Crandall also addressed a serious concerned outlined in the letter the directly impacted student safety.
“The Fire Chief and the BOCES Safety inspector confirmed that there is not a “razor blade” like mechanism located under the bed in the room,” Crandall furthered.
During last week’s meeting, several parents also called for an outside investigator, like State Police.
“An investigator from the New York State police inspected the room earlier today, raised no concerns as to the safety of the room, and the District will fully cooperate with any law enforcement investigation if one is commenced,” Crandall said.
The school, Crandall says, has since stopped using the room. A claim, the Superintendent says, was made Monday that they tried to use the room again in the morning, something he says is not true.
“That is false. Instead, the District contacted the student’s parents, and the child was retrieved by the parents and taken home for the day,” Crandall continued.
In addition, the school released images of the room itself, and explained more about its use, saying the room is located on the first floor near the Elementary main office, located inside one of the administrative offices.
“Any time a child is in the room, the child is monitored,” he said. “The room is well ventilated and has a large window. The room is not soundproof, so any child in the room can be heard by the monitor at all times.”