WILDOMAR (CBS) — A Riverside county teacher has been removed from her classroom after a mother complained to the school district about her child being ordered to go into a cardboard box.
The child attends Ronald Reagan Elementary School in Wildomar, just south of Lake Elsinore.
“My child was abused, said Kim Rollins, who had difficulty containing her frustration when discussing what happened to her 10-year-old son, Sage, at school.
“A special needs child that gets put in a box, I just can’t comprehend it. How humiliating,” she said.
Kim’s son was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism, a few years ago.
“He can’t even handle whispering of children, a ticking clock, these are like loud gongs to him,” she said.
An Individual Education Plan (IEP) was developed by educators at Ronald Reagan Elementary to help Sage in an inclusive classroom. It involves having a “quiet place” to go, like his bedroom at home.
But it was not until Sage came home asking for a pair a scissors to decorate his box, that Kim learned what his “quiet place” was.
“The day they brought the box in and all the children told him about the box was very humiliating for him,” she said.
Kim said that Sage’s teacher also used the box as a form of punishment, which confused him further.
“I’ve asked specifically if she told him to go into the box, like ‘get in the box’ and she did two times,” Kim said.
Kim and her attorney filed a governmental claim alleging discrimination.
“The teacher was bullying him and allowing other students to bully him,” Attorney Jack Anthony said.
Representatives from Lake Elsinore School could not speak specifically about the pending case, but said that there are 36 other students with special needs at the school, some of whom also have quiet places.
“Tents are used, boxes are used, sometimes a desk with a blanket over it can be used as a quiet area,” said Mark Dennis of Lake Elsinore School.
Dennis said the cardboard appliance box was similar to one we found in an education catalog.
But experts we spoke with suggested that a box may not be appropriate for a 10 year old and that quiet places should be place where other children in the classroom also go.
The school and experts agree that a quiet place should never be used as punishment.
“Self-elect meaning that the student voluntarily chooses when to pull away from the stimulus of the classroom,” Dennis said.