Eye on Education

Ohio Legal Rights Service Drops Lawsuit Against Columbus City Schools

Joe Gratz / Flickr

A state agency that advocates for the rights of disabled people has dropped its lawsuit against the Columbus school district in connection with the use of seclusion rooms. Seclusion rooms are small, often padded rooms where violent or aggressive students can be taken to calm down.

In a suit filed in March in federal court, the Ohio Legal Rights Service sought to obtain records showing how the rooms are used.

Agency spokesperson Kim McConnell said the agency asked the judge to dismiss the suit because the school district provided the requested documents. The judge dismissed the suite yesterday. However, the agency is continuing to investigate the use of seclusion rooms, she said.

The school district has denied accusations that it fails to properly oversee the use of those rooms.

In its lawsuit, the Ohio Legal Rights Service says it has initiated a “district-wide investigation of abuse, neglect and/or significant rights violation” in Columbus, Ohio’s largest school district.

The investigation came about after the mother of an autistic student contacted the agency about her son being placed seclusion room — which she called a “closet” — more than once, according to the lawsuit. The mother said that her son, who is autistic, “had urinated in the room, was lying on the floor, and contracted a staph infection,” according to the lawsuit.

Read more here.


  • Justice

    I used to be a special ed intern from OSU years ago 2000, and was placed for a quarter at Beatty park Elementary school . The students were treated horribly. The teacher Ms. Levine or Lebuke( don’t recall her last name correctly) was using tasers,grabing students by their ears and pulling them off from the floor, putting students in the cell like room which was installed in the middle of class, she was emotionally abusive to students, and not a very nurturing individual. She would tell me these are the criminals of our future society and we have to fix them with full force now. She once told me to ” poke him up ” with a sharp pencil, to wake up a student who was sleeping due to his medication, and when I refused, she reported me to my then professor Dr. Gewondlyn Cartledge and my professor told me ” If you want that teacher license you better do what she is asking you to do.” I told her I was not interested in a teaching license that was built on abusing children, and I never got my teaching license eventhough I passed the licensure exam. Other students who were interns there spoke of a basement where kids were kept there and there were signs of human feces and urine there. At the school for the Blind, the students in the Multiple handicap calss were not getting any education. The teacher was always sitting at her desk doing nothing while the students had to learn to behave by sitting quietly in their chairs for several hours a day, the classroom aids were chatting with each other talking about what they ate for dinner, or what they did the previous evening, and the ladies were all over a male classroom aid all the time. I remember a student who was drooling on her clothes and in cold winter nobody took time to change her shirt, she had to sit on that wet shirt till the end of school and then they would change her shirt when she was getting in the bus. My own daughter who is disabled and was at Colerain Elementary school came home with burn marks on her hands as well as bruises and cuts on her upper arm which was done by a sharp razor repeatedly, and she is a sweet and quite girl with no behavior problems. My meetings with Mrs. Jackson and Mary Eye of Columbus City Schools got nowhere and I had to pull my daughte out of that school, while I was a graduate student and a single mom. I was treatend by Columbus city schools that they were going to prosecute me for depriving my daughter from education. I moved to Hilliard city Schools , they were very prejiduce and did not provide school to my daughter for a month. I moved to Dublin City Schools and at the time Dr.Christen Miller the Director of Special Education program was superb. The teacher and staff were very nice to my daughter, and since then my daughter has been in Dublin City Schools. I remeber one of the students in my daughter’s class was laid on a cold winter day on the floor without carpet, she was shaking , and was not fully covered. When I asked the teacher maybe she needs a blanket, she said not to worry, and no one was helping that student. Another student has fallen down from a changing bed and ended up with a broken hip, and the principle of the school ” Colerain Elementary ” and staff were trying to hush it up, and then they would say that the student’s slippery clothes has caused this accident.Columbus City School needs to change. Even the bus drivers were very rude and abusive. I am gald that after so many years finally someone is thinking of investigating the abuse that is going towards students with disabilities at schools. I hope that people and professionals alos start looking at different type of abuse and neglect that are going on at supported living and licesed homes where most of these kids once they grow up are placed. I hope people can get together and question the Ohio Dept. of DD records of why they are not taking those licenses away from the owners of these homes ( most homes that I visited were filthy with mold, urine smell, trashy furniture,chapped wall paints, etc.) and why they do not allow other people who can provide a better living envrionment for this population to open and operate homes. The ODDD does not allow any one else to open licesensed homes, they say their cap is full. ODDD and its staff also need to be changed from top to bottom. And now they are cutting the Waiver hours from the most vulnerable members of the society. This speaks volums to the competency of the director of ODDD. I hope he can be replaced by someone who has a heart for the individuals with disability who need the services. Thank You.

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