Education Policy Analyst
In the wake of “The Quiet Rooms” investigation by the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica, Access Living is enraged and deeply saddened by the unlawful and egregious use of isolated seclusion against students with disabilities. As a leading disability rights organization, we and our colleagues in the disability movement have consistently advocated against isolated seclusion. Isolating any child in a closet-sized locked room is neither educational nor therapeutic. Every child is entitled to receive necessary supports with dignity and respect. When a student with a disability needs support for behavioral issues, schools should provide trained adult supports who can help the student de-escalate, instead of locking the student away. Isolation is not education. It is punishment on the basis of disability.
We also see deeply rooted systemic issues: lack of disability acceptance, lack of trained professionals in schools, and lack of positive behavioral interventions, supports, and crisis de-escalation training, and, most importantly, lack of public investment in special education. We must assess today’s broken system and build an inclusive, resourceful environment for our students with disabilities. Prohibiting inhumane seclusion practices in schools is just the beginning. Access Living remains committed to working on systemic changes until our students with disabilities receive the adequate supports they deserve. Disability rights are human rights.