StateImpact Ohio‘s three-part series on the use–and misuse–of seclusion in public schools is already making waves and starting conversations around the state and the country.
Since its launch on Sunday, August 5, the story has been picked up by the Cincinnati Enquirer, the Associated Press, the San Francisco Chronicle and Palm Beach Post. It also garnered mentions from ProPublica and the Investigative Reporters and Editors’ blog, Extra! Extra!.
On Thursday, StateImpact Florida did its own follow-up to the story, exploring the use of seclusion in that state’s public school system.
StateImpact Ohio’s Molly Bloom and Ida Lieszkovszky collaborated with The Columbus Dispatch‘s Jennifer Smith Richards on the investigation, which included more than 100 public records requests, visits to a number of schools and dozens of interviews.
They discovered that 40 of those schools use seclusion, many with little guidance or oversight. Several of the schools had no formal policy about when or how the rooms should be used or how parents should be notified when their child is placed in seclusion. The rooms are often used as a way of handling special needs children. They are intended to be a means of calming children who become upset or violent. But, with little or no training, educators are also using the rooms as a form of punishment.