Isolation, hogties, handcuffs and Velcro

By Ken Watts

Their voices cracked with emotion as they recalled a devastating loss. Don and Tina King’s 13-year old son Jonathan hanged himself after a teacher locked him in a windowless 8X8 closet called a “seclusion room.” Jonathan was a student in the Alpine Program, a public school in Gainesville, Ga. for students with emotional and behavioral problems.  A few weeks before his death in 2004, Jonathan told his parents that teachers had put him in “time out.” “After he died, we found out that Jonathan wasn’t in there for minutes,” Don King said.

Seclusion and Restraint Hearing June 9th

The State Board of Education is holding a Public Hearing on June 9 from 1pm – 2pm to generate public discussion around the proposed Rule 160-5-1-.35 that would limit the practices of restraint and seclusion in public schools. A 2009 report by the National Disability Rights Network stated that 41 percent of states and territories have no laws, policies or guidelines concerning restraint or seclusion use in schools.  Currently, students in Georgia can be restrained or placed into seclusion for any reason. The proposed rule follows the tragic death of 13-year old Jonathan King who hung himself while secluded in a Gainesville, GA school. Concerned citizens, in conjunction with the Georgia Advocacy Office (GAO), Georgia Council on Developmental Disabilities (GCDD), Center for Leadership in Disability at Georgia State University, Institute on Human Development and Disability at the University of Georgia and Parent to Parent of Georgia, are pressing for a tougher revised rule that also addresses accountability and data collection.