Mom helps change law after finding her son in 'isolation room'

Mom helps change law after finding her son in 'isolation room'

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PHOENIX -

It is hard to believe they even exist, but a new law in Arizona is putting restrictions on so-called isolation rooms in schools.

School staff use them when children, typically special-needs children, are acting up and can't be controlled.

But the new law recently signed by the governor makes it illegal to lock a child in one of those rooms without a parent's permission.

We talked with a mother whose son was put in one of these rooms. You can just imagine this mother's reaction when she found her son inside one.

If you doubt these rooms are real, she has the video to prove it.

This is the room. It's got padded walls and is about 5 feet by 5 feet. Leslie Noyes will never forget the day she found her son inside this room.

"I can see him lying in there. His face is on the floor. The floor is filthy and he is not moving. It was really really scary. I have never seen that room before I was completely shocked by its existence," says Noyes.

Her then-7-year-old was put in the isolation room after he had what school staff called a "bad day." According to Noyes it wasn't the first time her son had been put in there. And she was never told about it.

"Our biggest issue besides locking a child in a closet is why didn't they tell us? If they are really looking to solve the problem why aren't they partnering with us? Why did they hide it?"

State Rep. Kelly Townsend got wind of the family's story and introduced a bill at the legislature that requires a parent's permission before any child can put in an isolation room. The governor signed the bill last week.

Noyes says her son, who was in the 2nd grade at the time, was traumatized.

"He didn't want his bedroom door closed after that. He didn't want to be alone. And these were things that were not issues [before the incident]. He even asked to sleep in our room and he hadn't done that in years."

Noyes testified at the capitol in support of the new law. She hopes to eventually get these rooms completely banned at schools.

"It is not by any means enough but it is a good step in the right direction."

The Noyes family has a lawsuit pending against the Deer Valley Unified School District.

Parents must give permission for a school to be able to use a room like the one you just saw. The only time there would be an exception is if the student poses an imminent threat to himself or other.

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