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Lexington superintendent asks state to investigate use of time out rooms

Posted by Deidre Fernandes  September 12, 2012 05:46 PM

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Lexington Superintendent Paul Ash asked a state oversight agency Wednesday to review two reports of children left in school time out rooms and determine whether there was any potential abuse by the district’s staff.

While Ash said he believes that staff acted appropriately, parents and School Committee members called for an independent review this week after the cases were publicized. Asking the Department of Child & Families to investigate the cases will hopefully restore public confidence in the district, Ash said.

“It’s the prudent thing to do,” Ash said.

The district’s practices with special education children were highlighted this past weekend after a parent, Bill Lichtenstein wrote about his daughter’s experience in a Lexington school during the 2005-2006 school year in an op-ed article in The New York Times.

Lichtenstein said his daughter, who was a kindergartner at the time, was repeatedly placed in a separate room, to calm her down. The school called her parents at one point to pick her up because she had urinated on the floor of the time-out room and took off her clothes, he said.

The account sparked concern among local parents.

The district said that while separate time out rooms were allowed at the time, they stopped in 2007.

However, during a School Committee meeting on Tuesday, another parent came forward and said her son was placed in a “quiet room” in 2008.

Ash said he has asked DCF to investigate both incidents.

Lichtenstein could not be immediately reached for comment.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com

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