Public Schools Have New Tool For Unruly Kids … How Is This Even Legal?

Written by S.C. Sherman on October 14, 2017

When I first saw this I wanted to write it off as a joke. The Huffington Post has run a lot of stuff I find dubious at best.

I watched the video partly because my kids go to school in Eastern Iowa, which is exactly where this form of “Discipline” was said to be taking place.

I personally was in shock. The video claims that teachers have the authority to lock an offending kid in these “Security Boxes” for up to an hour before they need special permission from the administration.

Watch the disturbing video here:

Seriously? For up to an hour?! Are you kidding me?

I was stunned. Eastern Iowa and schools tend to lean liberal. How could liberals be for this? Was it really happening? I went to my personal Facebook page. The one where I post mostly only family photos and non-political things. I shared this video and asked if any of my friends knew if this was real or not. I was half expecting it to be “Fake News”. Well, it wasn’t.

People started saying they had seen these boxes at this school or that school. Many people were horrified, but shockingly some were all for it as a means of last resort for the special violent case students.

Doesn’t that mean it really is a sort of jail if you toss the violent students in there?

Isn’t that some sort of violation of human rights? Isn’t it a form of kidnapping?

According to the Cedar Rapids Gazette, seclusion rooms are legal to be used in extreme cases when a student is at risk or harming themselves or others. An article in the Gazette from July 4th discusses an alleged case where it was improperly used:

CEDAR RAPIDS — The Cedar Rapids school district has admitted Pierce Elementary School staff held a third-grade girl in an unauthorized seclusion room not for being physically aggressive — as the law allows — but because she wouldn’t stop crying.

“If I did that, I absolutely would be reported to DHS,” said Tammy Mims, the girl’s guardian, referring to the Iowa Department of Human Services, which investigates reports of child abuse. “There’s no accountability.”

The third grader went on to describe her ordeal:
“I was crying, kicking the door and trying to pull it open,” the girl told The Gazette. “They said, ‘You need to calm down,’ but I couldn’t get out.”

She doesn’t know how long she was in the room — and the school district didn’t document the incident — but she said she finally was able to pull the door open a crack and saw several school staff on the other side.

The girl said she was placed in that room twice during third grade, although Mims said she did not receive written notice — as required by law — for either incident.

School administrators and proponents of the isolation boxes point to school overcrowding and an inability to handle the violent nature of some children:
Seclusion rooms, used in many Iowa school districts, are allowed as a last resort when agitated children are at risk of harming themselves or others. Although some psychologists and parents believe seclusion can do more harm than good, the practice reflects the challenges teachers face educating children with mental illness, developmental disabilities or trauma that may cause them to act out violently.

But the rooms aren’t to be used for minor infractions, and never for punishment.

If you did this to an adult, you would be kidnapping them. Since these are elementary school children they have virtually no rights. Is this really the state of our public education system? Apparently, yes.

What would you do if your child was locked in a box?

Even if my child had done something wrong, putting them in a cell for up an hour, is absolutely unacceptable. I am seriously stunned that I am even writing about this and it is a real thing. Maybe in some third world place I could imagine this happening, but we are talking about the Midwest of America here!

It’s just that terrifying. If the school administrators of America think it’s okay to lock up a child in a wooden box, what else is okay?

Stories like this only highlight how far we have fallen. Parents are probably to blame by sending horribly behaved children to school, but for a school to think they have the right to lock up a child is crazy. Schools actually do have the right, what is more crazy. The schools are within their rights, so that kicks this up to State Government who has allowed this to become a legal way to treat the children of our nation.

Recently an Iowa City Task Force reviewed the use of seclusion rooms and recommended keeping them, but trying to use them less! Some task force members had questions:

“It’s hard to understand why we need to lock up a 4- or 5-year-old in a 6-by-6 cell because we can’t calm them down,” Hemingway said.

“These are little dungeons we have in the classroom,” board member Chris Liebig added. “I understand there’s a rationale you can build for them, but to me it’s just not right. … It can’t look and feel the way that these do.”

You used to get sent to the principal’s office or have to stay in from recess if you caused trouble in school. Worst case scenario, they called your parents or sent home a note…not anymore…acting up in school could get you thrown in the hole!

photo credit: flequi Frightened via photopin (license)

Share if you think this kid-in-a-box approach to school policy is alarming.

S.C. Sherman
S.C. Sherman grew up a farm kid in rural Iowa. He graduated from the University of Iowa with a degree in Communications Studies. Steve is a business owner, and recently ran for Iowa State House of Representatives.. S.C. enjoys political commentary and great stories. He has written three fiction novels found at He currently lives with his wife and four children in North Liberty, Iowa.