Longview special ed. 'padded booth' temporarily shut down

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by KGW Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 6:31 PM

LONGVIEW, Wash. -- A children's learning center in Longview offers an isolation booth to help special education students calm themselves down, and now the booth has been shut down while the school district investigates complaints.

The padded room with a plexiglass ceiling allows students to decompress when things get tough, educators say. The program has come under fire on Facebook. Critics used words like "lazy" and "uneducated" to describe teachers and administrators. Some went as far as to say they should be jailed.

District spokeswoman Sandy Catt told KGW the booth is not being used while the investigation is under way, and the district is working to find the best possible way to move forward.

"Public schools are here for the kids," she said. "We want to help the kids and in no way harm them."

Catt said the isolation booth has been around for four years. As many as nine families that have signed off on its use.

The mother of 11-year-old Starr Favela told KGW the procedure has helped her daughter develop a passion for books, when just a few years ago reading was nearly impossible.

"Starr didn't even communicate with us," said Niki Favela.  "She growled at us."

Niki says Starr was a terror in the classroom until she was enrolled in the Children's Learning Center at Mint Valley Elementary School in Longview. 

"When I get mad I usually walk in there and calm down in five seconds pretty much," said Starr said of the isolation room.

"She's able to control herself," said Niki Favela.  "How can you not say it's successful?"

Niki says Starr is now exceeding expectations in the classroom.  For proof look no further than her newfound love for reading.

Administrators learned that a student who was not authorized to be in the booth was put inside it, which along with the Facebook criticisms launched the investigation.

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KGW Reporter Mike Benner contributed to this report.

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