Quiet rooms in Tri-City classrooms

Quiet rooms in Tri-City classrooms »Play Video
It's a story that has raised controversy across the state: "isolation rooms" used in special education classrooms.
The outrage started in Longview. But now KEPR has learned more than 10 schools in the Tri-Cities use similar rooms -- called the "quiet rooms."

"As long as the procedures are followed and everything's in place, that it could be done safely," said Pasco parent Saul Martinez.

Martinez prioritizes his children's education and their safety.

"I think it's imperative that we have this equipment and those facilities available to be able to protect our children," said Martinez.

Saul says the quiet rooms help behavior. Administrators in the Richland and Kennewick school districts agree.

"It keeps them in school, it keeps them able to work on some skills to learn some new skills," said Special Education Teacher Jo Anderson.

Schools are quick to state it's not used for discipline. It's only there when other methods can't calm students down.

"Then it becomes an actual teaching opportunity," said Anderson.

The same kind of rooms raised eyebrows in Longview when people found out about it. When I got a closer look, we found out a teacher is required to supervise at all times.

Reporter: "So, you're saying that you're seeing a good amount of success."

Anderson: "I see great success for it, yup. I have students that would tell you that the quiet room keeps them safe and keeps other people safe."

The method comes with a boatload of paperwork.

Each child gets a special education record folder which indicates de-escalation strategies as well as parent sign off for use of the quiet rooms.

Parents are notified of specific instances with a take-home note or phone-call. Schools are required to report quiet-room cases to the state and federal level.

Used -- all with the purpose to alter behavior for the better -- and keep the highest-need children in school.

Kennewick tells us the program has been in place since 1982. Pasco School District tells us they don't have any isolation rooms.