Father claims school leaders locked son in closet nine times

Posted at 6:18 PM, Mar 28, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-29 10:41:35-04

POWHATAN COUNTY, Va. (WTVR) – One Powhatan father says his seven-year old son with autism was locked away in a storage closet for at least 30 minutes by school administrators, on nine different occasions.

“He would put him in and hold the door shut. We never knew about it. We never knew why, until one night, my son begged us not to go back to school,” Sean Campbell said.

When he approached school administrators he was eventually given a log showing his son Alex was consistently locked away for “continued defiance, being aggressive in class and hitting staff,” Campbell said.

In Virginia, there is no law preventing teachers from secluding students who are considered a threat. We sought comment from Powhatan school leaders about Campbell’s claims, but they had no response.

However, school leaders do confirm they’re looking at writing up a restraint and seclusion policy to deal with misbehaving students and they have invited Campbell to be part of the process.

CBS 6 obtained the restraint and seclusion policy Powhatan school leaders are considering.

It would allow administrators to “physically restrain students” and they would be required to notify parents within 15 business days. But if seclusion is used, the school wouldn’t be required to tell parents at all, unless there is “observed physical injury to the student,” during the seclusion.

Former state superintendent Dr. Bill Bosher said he is against seclusion and restraint policies.

He said schools shouldn’t take such a broad approach to discipline students.

“You don’t want the teacher to first think about what’s the regulation — ‘What am I supposed to do? Not supposed to do?'”

“You want them to first think about how do I best handle this situation so that everybody’s ok in the end,” Bosher said.

Powhatan school leaders said the process is still under review. In the region, Henrico and Chesterfield have similar seclusion and restraint policies in place.