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.

Comments (78)
  1. Nancy says:

    Although I don’t know all the facts in this case, having taught autistic and special needs children for 10 years, I know that autistic children like the feeling of being enclosed without being touched by humans. The box might have been the perfect safe place for this boy. It is such a shame that all teachers are being put through the wringer right now for the sins of a few. It is McMartin all over again.

    1. YaYa says:

      All teachers aren’t “being put through the ringer right now for the sins of a few”. Yes, there is probably more vigilance, but they aren’t going to go removing teachers for every little thing.

      I say that as a parent who fought, singlehandedly, to have my child’s abusive teacher removed from the school over a decade ago. I fought and WON. No publicity, no news coverage, no attorney, no help beyond my own speaking and letter-writing ability. NOT an easy thing to accomplish.

      And I subsequently helped get an abusive teacher removed from my niece’s school.

      There really ARE some teachers doing some things they have no business doing. The few of you who have responded to this story so far have responded to the most brief presentation of the situation and have no idea what the details reveal.

      Nancy, YOU may not be a sick individual who landed a job working with kids, but MANY of your co-workers are.

      1. Rooney says:

        Everyone clap for Ya Ya!!!!! Why don’t you just comment on the story and get off your SELF RIGHTEOUS HORSE.! Nancy has her opinion. As far as teachers who deal with any disability, I give them a lot of credit. Kids tell fibs too.

      2. healthy1 says:

        Furthermore YaYa, most of Nancy’s coworkers probably don’t yet have their teaching credentials. You know the same song and dance, “they are in-process.” Just like most special ed teacher’s aides used to be crossing guards or maintenance personnel. It’s a warped and twisted system of hierarchy. In fact, it’s the best kept secret of the school district!

      3. dave ceake says:

        and these ie teachers are allways crying for more money . whole system is corrupt . need to clean house …

    2. michelle says:

      The child should have an Occupational Therapist that SHOULD be providing support to the teacher specifically with matters relating to sensory overload, etc. I do not know if her intent was malicious, or just an act committed due to her lack of knowledge regarding the child’s needs. The teacher made a mistake, and unfortunately it will cost her.

      1. healthy1 says:

        I, for one, certainly hope it costs the teacher her pride and her pocketbook. Shame on her!

      2. Cyn507 says:

        The other kids in the class say the kid went voluntarily inside the closet and the box. Lets not crucify a teacher for an overblown inaccurate headline. Whos to say the mother isnt looking for a payday? Oh that never happens does it? Lets just fire all the teachers like know it all healthy1 says.

      3. Gene Rodmy says:

        Not too early to judge? Let’s try her here and now. And to Healthy 1 (below): what goes around comes around. Let’s hope the same for you. Why? I have as much information about your situation as you do with this one. Not every lawyer is fully accurate: may be a conflict of interest ($$,$$$ may the goal here).

    3. healthy1 says:

      First, you make generalizations regarding the whole Autistic population, and as an “experienced” teacher of 10 years, you should know better by now. Do you personally have your own Autistic child you raise at home? My guess is no. Many teachers are going to be exposed because of this as they should be. Too many teachers are getting away with neglect/abuse in schools, and too many parents are unaware, and put their trust and faith in educators that they will do right by their disabled child. It’s a very corrupt system no matter how you slice it. May justice prevail!

      1. Cyn507 says:

        If the kid cant handle a ticking clock then a normal school setting isnt for him.

  2. Mike Z says:

    “He can’t even handle whispering of children, a ticking clock, these are like loud gongs to him,” Maybe you should home school him instead of forcing him into a public school system that couldn’t possibly meet his needs.

    1. ginny says:

      I agree with you Mike Z. Teachers today are faced with so many additional facets of their job other than educating children. Special Ed and Mainstreaming is not always the best option for some children and there are times when parents need to accept that and seek alternative settings. I don’t see this as abuse at all since a box is one solution that is advised as quite space for some. Seems to me that this mother may have a problem accepting that her child has a condition that may not be conducive to a regular classroom.

      1. O_O says:

        Teachers today are faced with nothing different than teachers 50 years ago. The difference is that most of the issues they deal with now have a name, like Asperger’s Syndrome. Besides, if a teacher can’t conform to each individual child’s needs then they need not be a teacher. When you sign up to be an educator you assume you’re going to get a wide array of children and their needs. If you can’t handle it, DON’T BE A TEACHER.

      2. patti says:

        I agree with both Mike Z and ginny. 0_0, teachers today ARE faced with different things that teachers 50 years ago. When I was in high school in the mid-70’s, kids like this were NOT mainstreamed. They went to their own schools. It’s this era of political correctness and parents who want their kids “treated like everyone else” that are delusional. Those kids ARE different and their presence in the classroom IS disruptive. It has a negative impact on the other kids in the classroom. They have to be quiet (not normal for a young child) and tip-toe around a kid who has an explosive personality. Why? It’s not wrong for them to have their own schools and it would benefit all children greatly.

    2. YaYa says:

      You might be surprised at some of the obstacles to that solution. Besides, from the response of Mark Dennis in the story, it sounds like the school is well-versed in this type of disability. Maybe the solution is to get a teacher who can handle it.

      Special Education teachers get paid more, so it’s more attractive to some, even though they do not have the compassion, patience and understanding necessary to do the job.

      Teaching at all requires a special kind of person but many people were drawn to it because their college loans were forgiven if they agreed to go into teaching. Many of these people would never have otherwise gone anywhere near teaching and have no business being in the company of children.

      1. Ro says:

        I think that many of us have these special needs kids in our classroom, and they will frequently cry, scream, crawl, “self-stim” and all manner of other behaviors….all the while we are supposed to be teaching the other 35 kids real and academic skills. It feels impossible some days. I did not choose special education because I knew I did not have the patience etc. for these students. However, they ARE in our classrooms and their needs are so completely different from regular students, I do not know how to meet both at the same time.

      2. healthy1 says:

        I can only imagine how difficult this must be for you, especially with limited funds and resources.

      3. Wendi says:

        special education teachers DO NOT get paid more.

    3. SA says:

      I work in Special Ed. and completly agree!! Sounds like a mother trying to make money!!

      1. healthy1 says:

        O_O, right-on! SA- Time to get a new career!

  3. Sebastian says:

    I have autism and had a hard time studying when I was a student. Now, I am a father to a child who has attention deficit disorder (ADD) & has speech disability. The public school special education staff, though they created an IEP that seemed very polished and detailed, has never followed their plan. Every public school that my son went attended, and he attended several, the school staff are not really dedicated to help my child. My child was also bullied and I repeatedly told the school staff to help him but they just kept on saying, “tell us who bullied your son and we will do something about it”. I was frustrated and told them, “do you want me to be in campus everyday to catch the bullies in their act?”.

    One day, my child came home with a wound. My child told me he was stabbed by a pencil by a bully. I was able to obtain the identity of the bully and also took pictures of the injury of my child. When I presented it to the school principal, what the school staff did was they just simply talked to the bully and moved him to another seat in the classroom. I was totally surprised! The school might as well give the bully a medal of merit for being a bully.

    After studying the behavior of school staff on these situations, I found out that whenever there is a bullying incident in the public school, they staff will always try to suppress or contain the incident and discount is severity. They will basically sweep it under the rug hoping that it will be forgotten because bullying is a bad issue and they don’t want it to taint the image of the school. In other words, they don’t want to be blamed.

    Are you a teacher that is angered by what I said? If you have an autistic child suffering from bullying and mistreatment by the school staff then and only then will you understand what I and my child went through.

    Don’t point to me that you have been a teacher for many years handling autistic children and you are now an “expert”. Your job allows you to handle autistic children for 6 to 8 hours per day. Parents of autistic children is responsible for their child 12/7 FOR LIFE. We are not allowed to turn out backs on them or have a vacation. We are also not paid for our efforts and sacrifices.

    I have seen psychologist, psychiatrist, special education teachers, principals, child behavior experts crumble on the pressures of handling THEIR OWN autistic child. I even know a special education teacher who graduated from a prestigious university had an abortion because she contracted measles during pregnancy. She was told by her doctors that there is a possibility that her child might have birth defects. This special education teacher did not want to take the responsibility of having a special child and so the quick way out is to have an abortion.

    To the teachers and also readers of this article, if you ever have an autistic child, soften your heart and accept your situation. Fighting it will just make things worse. Develop a strategy on how to teach your child. I know you want to find a way for your child to break away from autism. Sometimes it works but don’t find a speedy way out of it. You might just harm your child by doing that.

    Be proud of your autistic child. Give us much praise as you can on little things. Be there to always protect, support, love and care for your child because your autistic child needs all that.

    1. Rooney says:

      You’re a great parent with a great child!

    2. Figureitout says:

      I concur! BRAVO from another parent of an Autistic child– who was neglected in the RIVERSIDE PUBLIC SCHOOL DISTRICT!

  4. sheri moreno says:

    Change your avatar
    SLMORENO at 10:00 AM February 29, 2012
    My son Peyton Moreno is in Sabrina Macfarlane’s class. I questioned my son about all the things the news reports said his teacher had done, NONE of them happened! It is really sad that this great teacher and our kids are the one’s that are having to suffer from one big lie. This kid needs to be in a special needs classroom. My son has said that he used the box as a fort to go in when he didn’t want to listen to the teacher and that he put himself in it, NOT her. He also would NOT stay out of the closet and would continually disrupt the class. WHY HAS NO ONE INTERVIEWED OUR KIDS IN THE CLASSROOM…WHO BETTER TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH?? We need to bring back our teacher and clear her name! Our kids are the one’s paying the price!!

    1. patti says:

      This is exactly the problem in many schools. My kid comes home with injuries, such as being stabbed with a pencil, shoved down onto the concrete, etc, etc by these very same kids with “special needs”. Heaven forbid that a kid say or do something to one of the special needs kids. I’m sorry, but I do not believe they should be mainstreamed. The majority of them disrupt the classroom and exhibit violent behavior. They need their own campuses.

      1. healthy1 says:

        Do you have a special needs child? It’s just a question.

    2. healthy1 says:

      Way to much information Sheri! Be careful here, after all, it’s the internet.

      1. Gene Rodmy says:

        STFU healthy1. You care nothing for information or truth. Just scan the headlines and form your reality.

  5. deepthunk says:

    Any fool can see that the city of Los Angeles is absolutely sick with corruption to its very core, Mayor Villaraigosa and his minions on the city council have allowed children to fall into the hands of pedophiles and proven time and again that the way of their city government is the way of corruption. The simple fact is when there are problems with corruption in government you need only look at the officials elected to run it to find the source.
    How long will the people of Los Angeles put up with this gross mismanagement, gross misconduct, and disgustingly gross incompetence on the part of the mayor and city council? The list of their personal and professional failures, misdeeds, and suspicious activities goes on for miles, and yet still they sit in office where they can run the city into the ground. It simply astounds me.

    1. Software_Bear says:

      The article is NOT about L.A., nor its government. Your tirade is not relevant and is misplaced. And, by the way, good luck with changing L.A. government.

      1. PrincessKitana says:

        xD LMMFAO

      2. healthy1 says:

        Hey PottyMouthPrincess,

        Why did you disable your reply button? Interesting indeed. By chance, have you been drinking tonight?

  6. Marit Flowers says:

    I know all about this child. He is out of control most of the time and makes learning for all the other students impossible. The mother refuses to send him to the appropriate type of school, and the school has had to comply with her wishes, despite the disruptions to the school and other students. The boy felt comfort in going into the closet and eventually made his own way into this box. It actually quieted him for a while so the other children could continue their studies, so the teacher let him be. The mother was told about this months before, and she was fine with it until someone told her that she should be appalled, and sue the school. This mother won’t allow her son to go where he belongs, in special education, and has made a horrible situation much, much worse. This article lacks facts and defames a very good teacher. I hope there will be a retraction here.

    1. anna greye says:

      Thank you for this comment Marit Flowers! I’m also glad to see other people who realize that this was poor reporting and near slanderous toward the teacher involved. Anyone who deals with Asperger and autisitc students who are in mainstream public classrooms knows that the box was prbably a very good place for the child to be able to go for quiet while being able to remain in the classroom, hear the lesson, etc. The ‘expert’ who said that an autistic childs quiet space should be a place where “other children also go” is completely out of touch.and dead wrong! What does this expert suggest – a mini meditation retreat built inside every classroom in America? It’s tents and boxes, people. I’ve worked with schools from Florida to Colorado. God Bless this teacher for trying to help the boy AND the 35 other students – a near impossible task.

      1. healthy1 says:

        Oh well yes, Anna. I think that is exactly what schools should do is induct a “mini meditation retreat built inside every classroom in America.” Heck, it would probably calm the teacher down too, and could reduce the reoffend rate!

      2. Wendi says:

        you are absolutely right!

    2. D.... says:

      This is entirely not true. The district can take over the situation by proving that this child is not doing well in the current environment and can take charge but they refuse to do so. This district does not do anything beyond what they have to to get by. Read up on the law and see that the district and the other parent’s in the class have rights. If the child needed to be placed elsewhere where is the principal and the district to help in this process. Kids can be mainstreamed but the district needs to educate it’s staff on the appropriate actions that it should take to diffuse these situations within the classroom and how to handle it. This teacher has a special ed certificate which requires more school to complete and hold that certification. This teacher should know how to do this from her training or have been trained when the kid was placed in her classroom. Most schools have a sensory room or a place where the child can go to avoid a meltdown and then come back ready to learn. It is never okay for them to be in a box or closet especially in front of their peers. It is degrading and sad!!

      1. Figureitout says:


      2. Wolfman says:

        Next time put this mother in a private padded jail cell

      3. healthy1 says:

        Perhaps you need one too?

      4. Wendi says:

        Most schools do NOT have sensory rooms unless they’re a non-public school which is usually for your most violent students with special needs.

      5. Wendi says:

        the district can provide all the data in the world to prove that the child is not successful in the current learning environment, but the parent still has the right to go against what the evidence shows. At that point, the district can go through due process, but most districts would rather come up with some kind of compromise to work with the parent, instead of going to court. unfortunately, they’re going to be in court after all.

    3. Figureitout says:

      Do you hear your self-centered voices in your head? Geesh! Districts won’t properly provide appropriate placements and therapies for Autistic students because of budgeting- or so they claim. Any fool knows this old mantra. Unless there was a WRITTEN agreement, then there was NO agreement. For her son’s sake, I hope she prevails, and this neglectful teacher (ahem) is fired.

      1. PrincessKitana says:


  7. SoCalPaul says:

    So the mom is upset…why?
    Because the teacher did not handle this student the way mom would have? There is no “perfect ” way to teach and handle kids; let alone autistic children. give the teacher a break and have a one on one. If things don’t shake out the way you’ve envisioned then move up the chain of command. A lot of these people portray their world as overly fragile and over-react. Just imagine if the show was on the other foot, mom made a mistake at work (assuming she worked) and no second chance just either written up, relocated or fired. Give me a break.

    1. sodone says:

      The problem is that mom does not “handle” the kid. She expects everyone else to. This is the same flake who was screaming at a crossing guard for not letting her “special” kid run out into the parking lot during dismissal (in front of cars. The crossing guard made the grievous error of making this little darling wait with all the other kids until they had gone out and stopped traffic with a proper crossing procedure. So before you all jump on the band wagon realize that this mom is barking mad and is only looking for a payout. She does not care how abusive she is. She bullies staff and teachers on a regular basis.

      1. healthy1 says:

        Be very careful of the comments you place here. IP addresses are easily trackable and can hold-up in a court-of-law.

  8. Diana says:

    Shame on you, it sounds like decisions were made without the parent being brought into the loop!

    1. healthy1 says:

      Aw yes Diana, this is how schools and districts roll- hardly ever involving the parent in their own child’s education! They like to constantly push the envelope, regardless of what is on paper, that is, legally binding paper!.

      1. nan says:

        to healthy1 you don’t sound very healthy…

  9. Not Too Happy says:

    Unbelievable, we need to hear another side of this story. This kid has a history of issue starting from Kindergarten where bit the teacher. Continuously cause issues in the classroom and disruptive to other student who are trying to receive a proper education. I have a child in the same class as this boy, I have heard accounts from my child about this boy and how he is out of control. It’s already a impossible task to teacher 30 or more 4th grade students and to add this boy on top of that situation is completely absurd. From what I understand from my child who is in the same class as this Sage is that the Teacher did nothing wrong. She did everything to help accommodate this kid and still try to be productive with the rest of the students. This is a Charter School with accelerated learning environment. This Sage kid needs to be place a “special needs School”; I guess the parent are well to accept that fact. Now, with this media circus created by this people, my child is scared to go to school and is afraid what will happen next. My Child misses the former Teacher and wish she was back. I feel like I should create a law suit against the parent of this kid for depriving my child of a good and honest education.

    1. Figureitout says:

      It’s because many children in schools aren’t controlled. Period. Oh, and learn to parent your kid, stop throwimg the onus on the public school system!

  10. Figureitout says:

    Thank goodness this mother is being proactive in the advocacy of her Autistic son. My family experienced a neglectful situation within the substandard Riverside County Public School System years ago, and to know that nothing has changed, is really heart-breaking. Sue these people for all their worth!

    1. Figureitout says:

      And, before you correct my grammar- I meant to say THEIR not THEY’RE- figure that one out!

      1. Wolfman says:

        They should put this mother in a private jail cell

  11. Alice says:

    That is just wrong and terrible. my brother has the same things wrong with him as this little boy. I suggest home schooling Sage if possible to create a nice, comfortable, and quiet place for him.

    1. healthy1 says:

      Great comment and advice!

  12. seanthesheep says:

    i found out a family member of mine is autistic. it’s not easy. I MISS BEING JUDGMENTAL, like the rest of these folks above. comments like, maybe they should home school him are sad. all the a hole comments and with their it’s the kids fault and he should not be around the other kids, makes me want to fight all the more.

  13. Donald says:

    Come on! It’s not like she put postage on the box and called FEDEX. Teachers have no disciplinary tools. They are attacked by the parents, they get no support from the district, and they are the first ones to be thrown under the bus.

  14. healthy1 says:

    PrincessKitana (aka the egomaniac), it is interesting how you can’t spell, don’t know how to even use a computer in this advanced technological age (superimposed lettters- are you hard of hearing?), and use dated and inappropriate terminology to label people here. I hope and pray you are not a teacher, or for that matter, even remotely in a teaching profession. If you are, I loathe this generation. By the way, it’s never too late to learn to read and write.

  15. Mom of a special and bright son says:

    I am a mother of a special 13 year old who is very bright and smart, who happens to be autistic. He is being mainstreamed not from my request, but his home school does not have a special day class. I do not wish to send him to a school where he does not know anyone. Children with autism do not do well with major changes and they already know they are different they are reminded everyday by everyone else. They are no different then you or I. They have feelings and do understand being different. But are we all different from each other. Remember we are all human.

  16. lee says:

    Corrupt “Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement – California Dept. of Justice” are corrupt. An alarming number of them steal from suspects, sell drugs skimmed from busts and provide murder for hire.

  17. Sol says:

    When I was growing up children with severe disabilities and elders were cared for in the home. While impractical the system’s resources were not over extended with the ridiculous demands and expectations that we place on tax payers. Nobody is going to treat your loved ones with special needs with the care that a loving family member can provide. Some people with disabilities are absolutely impossible to control in a learning environment. We turn our heads in the name of equality believing that we can solve or aide, we cannot. There used to be institutions. Maybe we ought to revisit that system and make improvements. I find it incredibly ridiculous when we try to integrate someone with a severe behavioral disability into mainstream society. It simply does not work.

    1. Dot says:

      Really? Perhaps having to care for family members in that situation 24/7 for life with no support would give you a different perspective.
      Bring back institutions? I agree. Electric shock, straight jackets, and padded cells. Such a pleasant environment to leave your son, daughter, or mom in. What wonderful and wise progress we humans have made!

  18. zach says:

    I have ADHD and Asperger’s. I was educated in the public school system of Wisconsin. My special education teachers did not put me in a cardboard box as punishment or to calm me down. I do not think the teacher handled the situation appropriately.

    1. Dot says:

      Great reply Zach.

      1. Wolfman says:

        Hey Mom. Put your kid in a private school that way we all win

  19. Wendi says:

    Temple Grandin, who has autism and is a well known expert on autism, made herself her own “box” to help her when she had sensory overload. In her own words, sensory overload is “painful” and causes fear and anxiety. The media and the parent involved in this case are demonizing the teacher out of their ignorance.

  20. m21 says:

    This parent also stated that her son was put in the “closet” in this room. I work for this district and have been in the room this child was in several times since it was newly built. The plain truth is that there IS NO closet in ths or any other classroom at RRE. Seems someone is having trouble telling the truth. I also have seen the so called “box” her son made use of. Again the truth is far from the version portrayed by “Mom”.

  21. American Infidel says:

    To healthy: ” Be very careful of the comments you place here. IP addresses are easily trackable and can hold-up in a court-of-law.” You must a lawyer trolling for new clients. Ever hear of the First Amendment? I personally don’t care if you are offended by the comments made here. It is no big loss if I get canned from this site. Kids do lie and teachers do get victimized quite a lot by parents and their kids. For every kid who is abused by a teacher, a hundred teachers are punished because of lies told kids who believe that do not have to abide by the rules. If you don’t like this commentary, too flippin’ bad!

  22. American Infidel says:

    ” Edit ” To healthy 1: ” Be very careful of the comments you place here. IP addresses are easily trackable and can hold-up in a court-of-law.” You must a lawyer trolling for new clients. Ever hear of the First Amendment? I personally don’t care if you are offended by the comments made here. It is no big loss if I get canned from this site. Kids do lie and teachers do get victimized quite a lot by parents and their kids. For every kid who is abused by a teacher, a hundred teachers are punished because of lies told kids who believe that they do not have to abide by the rules. If you don’t like this commentary, too flippin’ bad!

  23. American Infidel says:

    To the “Grammar Trolls” on here: yes I did forget a few words here and there. Get a life!

  24. Joe says:

    I truly doubt there was any maliscious intent. Autistic kids do need a place of quiet and isolation. If anyone has seen autism in a worse case, the slightest noise is so exaggerated that they get severely agitated. It may have been a bad decision but I do not believe it was maliscious. Sad that with the true abuse in the LAUSD system that problewms like these are so overblown out of proportion. Hmm, now I wonder why the parent had her autistic child in such a situation?

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