Mass. School's ‘Time-Out Rooms' Come Under Heavy Fire

A Lawrence, Massachusetts, school is examining its policy on placing children in so-called "time-out rooms" after an irate mother pulled her daughter from the school over the controversial practice. 

"It’s cinder block walls all around and cement floors," said parent Ashley Martinez. 

Martinez says last Friday her first-grade daughter was left alone in one of these rooms at Community Day Arlington Elementary school, even after she told staff it makes her daughter's PTSD and ADHD worse. 

"She ended up getting physical because she’s petrified of the room. She said, ‘Mommy, I didn’t want to go,’" said Martinez. 

After finding out, she immediately pulled her daughter from class and posted a photo online of one of the rooms. It caused outrage because of the poor conditions, including a broken chair with sharp edges, dirty floors, and empty walls. 

Martinez now says it wasn't the time-out room her daughter was pulled from Friday, but still wants the other ones improved. 

In a statement, the district says it's disputing some of the claims but would not get into specifics, since it's still under investigation. They say the time-out space is only used when a student is posing a safety threat to themselves or others. 

One or two staff always accompany students with the door open. Visits are 30 minutes or less and parents are immediately notified. 

School Committee member Pavel Payano says all timeout rooms and relevant procedures at other Lawrence public schools will be scrutinized and questioned. 

"We need to create policies that might change the direction of this school and others in the area," says Payano. 

Martinez says her daughter is back in school and hopes this never happens again. 

"I think higher ups need to step in, I don’t trust the school at all," said Martinez. 

The Department of Education says it will be following up with the school district once the investigation is over. 

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