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Silver Creek Central School District responds to allegations of 'isolation room' at school

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Posted at 5:27 PM, Apr 04, 2022

SILVER CREEK, N.Y. (WKBW) — Leadership at Silver Creek Central School District now says it does have a "de-escalation room," days after denying allegations that students were being placed in an "isolation room" or "isolation cell" at the school as a form of discipline.

On March 31, upset parents crowded into a business in Silver Creek to address allegations of the use of the so-called "isolation room" at the district's elementary school.

Parents said Assistant Principal Jay Hall contacted them last week to tell them about the room. Hall said he wrote a letter to the school board on March 28, and has since been put on administrative leave.

The district responded to the allegations and released a lengthy statement Monday saying in part:

The District does not now, nor has it ever used an isolation cell, nor has it ever locked a child in a room alone. The District does utilize a de-escalation room. This is a widely accepted method of addressing the needs of children who simply require some time alone in a quiet place to gather their thoughts and composure so that they are able to safely re-join their peers in the classroom. It is by no means intended, nor has it ever been used as a form of punishment or have any negative implications. The New York State Education Department authorizes the use of such rooms in its regulations.

The district said upon receipt of the allegations it suspended the use of the de-escalation room and an investigation began.

According to the district, The Erie-2 BOCES Coordinator of Health and Safety inspected the room Monday and confirmed that the room is safe. In addition, the district said the Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Chief inspected the room and confirmed that it meets all applicable fire codes and regulations, and confirmed a person cannot be locked in the room. According to the statement, the New York State police also investigated the room and raised no concerns.

The de-escalation room itself is located on the first floor near the Elementary main office of the school. The de-escalation room is located inside one of the administrative offices. Any time a child is in the room, the child is monitored. The room is well ventilated and has a large window. (see photos below). The room is NOT soundproof, so any child in the room can be heard by the monitor at all times. This was confirmed by both the BOCES Safety inspector and the Fire Chief.

The district said further information will be available as the investigation proceeds and provided the following pictures of the room. You can read the full statement from the district below the pictures.

We e-mailed Crandall to ask why the de-escalation room was not mentioned last week. He responded saying, "When we spoke last week, you asked about an 'isolation cell.' The District does not have anything like that. I did not mention the de-escalation room because it in no way even resembles an “isolation cell” and I wanted to wait until the investigation was complete to make any further comment."

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From Superintendent Todd Crandall:

Last week certain allegations were publicized by a school administrator concerning the District’s treatment of children in the elementary school; specifically, he included an allegation about improper use of a de-escalation room. The community has raised concerns and has asked important questions concerning those allegations. A robust investigation has already been commenced, and we hope to have it completed shortly. A number of the allegations made are utterly FALSE and mandate an immediate response.

The District does not now, nor has it ever used an isolation cell, nor has it ever locked a child in a room alone. The District does utilize a de-escalation room. This is a widely accepted method of addressing the needs of children who simply require some time alone in a quiet place to gather their thoughts and composure so that they are able to safely re-join their peers in the classroom. It is by no means intended, nor has it ever been used as a form of punishment or have any negative implications. The New York State Education Department authorizes the use of such rooms in its regulations.

Upon receipt of the allegations on March 29, 2022, the District suspended the use of the de-escalation room pending a full and complete investigation into the allegations.

Earlier today, someone asserted that the District “tried” to utilize the de-escalation room this morning for a child. That is FALSE. Instead, the District contacted the student’s parents, and the child was retrieved by the parents and taken home for the day.

There has been an allegation that children have been locked in the room. That is also FALSE. The room DOES NOT lock from the inside. A person CANNOT be locked in the room. The Erie-2 BOCES Coordinator of Health and Safety inspected the room today (April 4, 2022) and confirmed that the room is safe. Likewise, the Silver Creek Volunteer Fire Chief inspected the room earlier today and confirmed that it meets all applicable fire codes and regulations. He also confirmed that a person cannot be locked in the room. An investigator from the New York State police inspected the room earlier today, raised no concerns as to the safety of the room, and the District will fully cooperate with any law enforcement investigation if one is commenced.

The de-escalation room itself is located on the first floor near the Elementary main office of the school. The de-escalation room is located inside one of the administrative offices. Any time a child is in the room, the child is monitored. The room is well ventilated and has a large window. (see photos below). The room is NOT soundproof, so any child in the room can be heard by the monitor at all times. This was confirmed by both the BOCES Safety inspector and the Fire Chief. Additionally, the two interior walls are painted cinder block walls just like the entire Director of Elementary Programming administrative office and all the exterior walls in the Elementary classrooms. Lastly, the Fire Chief and the BOCES Safety inspector confirmed that there is not a “razor blade” like mechanism located under the bed in the room.

Further information will be forthcoming as it is available as the investigation proceeds