Parents concerned over school's 'relaxation room' - WNEM TV 5

Parents concerned over school's 'relaxation room'

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Massachusetts officials are investigating a parent's complaint about her child being placed in solitary confinement at school.

"It's worse than a jail cell. Even the inmates at least get a toilet and a clean room,” Ashley Martinez said.

Martinez is referring to the room her seven-year-old daughter Juliana was sent to when she became disruptive in class.

"She gets sensory overloads and she's very hyper, she has ADHD so she needs to de-stress and to release some energy,” Martinez said.

Juliana is in the first grade at community day Arlington Elementary School in Lawrence.

She normally is sent to the school's comfort room -- which she said is a welcoming setting that allows students to work on classroom activities.

It's a stark contrast from this sensory deprivation room -- also known as the relaxation room.

"There's no carpeting, there's no padding on the floor, God forbid there's a child banging their head on the floor. There's a broken chair where a child can cut themselves, and it's definitely unsanitary,” Martinez said.

Martinez said her daughter now has nightmares after sitting in this room alone on several occasions up to an hour at a time.

"So, we expressed to the school please don't send her down there no more and we thought the relaxation room was done,” Martinez said.

After Martinez learned her daughter just was placed in the relaxation room this past Friday, over the weekend she contacted a school committee member over the weekend and hours later an investigation began.

"There's an opportunity there for the room to be more welcoming,” said Pavel Payano, a Lawrence School Committee member.

Payano is working with the school department in the investigation.

In a statement, the school department disputes some of the information shared on social media, saying at least one staff member is in the room with a child for no more than 30 minutes at a time.

"We will continue to work directly with any families to answer questions or concerns they may have, recognizing not all information currently available online and elsewhere is accurate,” the department said.

The seven-year-old was pulled from the school by her mother.

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