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Thursday, May 13, 2010 - 12:05pm

School Board Considers Banning "Solitary Confinement"

Georgia could ban solitary confinement as a way of disciplining students.

This comes six years after a 13 year old hanged himself after being locked up for hours in a room by himself at his special education school in North Georgia.

Attorney Lesley Lipson with the Georgia Advocacy Office says putting a student in a room alone with no supervision is severe punishment.

“The first case I ever had was a kid we thought had massive urinary tract problems, because he would urinate himself at school, and as we dug into that issue we found that he would spend hours-- he was six-- hours in a seclusion room and he learned to urinate on himself because his mom would come and bring him a change of clothes," says Lipson.  "That’s the only way he knew in his little six year old body of how to get out of that place”

The state board of education moved a rule forward Thursday, that would not only ban seclusion, but also prohibit educators from using medication, prone positioning, and materials like duct tape and ropes to restrain students.

Associate superintendent at the state board of education Gary McGibbony who helped create the new rules, says some teachers would have to take behavior management training to deal with and prevent extreme situations.

“We’re recommending in the rule, if a teacher or staff member works with students who are high risk for the behavior we’re talking about that needs some kind of restraint, then they should be trained," says McGibbony.

The rules are open for public comment; they could take effect as early as July.

Georgia is currently one of 20 states without rules on the practices.

Federal lawmakers are considering them nationwide.

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