The mother of a 17-year-old boy with autism is upset and concerned about his safety after an issue has come to light concerning how the boy’s teachers and paraprofessionals have been dealing with his behavioral problems.
According to a report from the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office, whenever the teenager acted out in class, he was sent to a “small office” or “closet” about 5 feet by 15 feet. The tiny room is said to contain only a desk and some filing cabinets. There are no windows, only a motion-activated light and a tiny gap under the door.
It has been reported that the young man was kept in this room on more than one occasion, but only one instance has been made public. On that particular day, the student was locked in the room for about two class periods, or roughly two hours, before an aide came to get him out and walk around with him to calm him down.
“I was a wreck,” says Marquette Carmichael, the boy’s mother. “I’m getting a call from a deputy sheriff about my autistic son, who I know is non-violent, who is non-self-injurious, he’s not a runner, he’s a good kid. He’s never been in trouble.”
The school staff members call the room the “quiet room” and apparently use it to help calm students who are engaging in dangerous behaviors. But Marquette says that kind of approach is unacceptable.
“I hope all children in his classroom, all children in all schools, for no one to be placed in a closet because of a behavioral issue,” she says.
Marquette has filed a lawsuit over the incident, both for her son’s sake and for the sake of the other students in the school. At this time, the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) has turned the case over to the State Attorney’s Office.
“We’re not only concerned about the safety of our client, but the teachers and other students as well,” says Shannon Ligon, a lawyer at Bates Ligon who is representing the Carmichael family.
Check out the video below to learn more about this family’s story and what’s being done to stop something similar from happening to other students.Whizzco