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Longview parents concerned about ‘prison cell’ at school

Some parents call it “The Box.” The school district in Longview, Wash. calls it a seclusion room.

The padded, seven-foot-tall booth at Mint Valley Elementary is used to calm students, some who have autism. Parents must give permission for a teacher to send a student into the booth, shaped like a phone booth.

School district spokeswoman Sandy Catt tells KATU News in Portland that other districts have them too. “I believe that room has served a therapeutic purpose and there may be improvements,” said Catt. “I think we need to look at information that’s been gathered to determine where to go from here.”

Concerned parent Ana Bate says her 10-year old-son was traumatized just sitting next to the box and seeing other kids sent inside. Bate doesn’t take the district’s word that the box works.

“Show me some real numbers, show me something that comes from the medical community that says that more times than not, and all the documentation that backs it up,” said Bate.

The district spokeswoman says state law allows placing children in the room when they display behavior that might endanger themselves or others. She says the Longview schools have received no complaints from parents who have allowed their children with behavioral disabilities to use the isolation room.

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