Being locked inside a small, dark, windowless room for hours at a time sounds like a scene out of a horror movie. However, this is a daily occurrence for Isabel Loeffler while at a place she is supposed to feel the safest: her school. The article, “When Discipline Starts a Fight,” by Robert Tomsho, tells the gruesome, real-life story of Isabel Loeffler. Isabel is an eight year old girl who suffers from autism, along with several other disabilities. Isabel was placed in a regular classroom with very little support, an action that a judge later ruled violated federal law.
Because public schools are under extreme pressure to teach more children with disabilities, the use of discipline by restraints and seclusion has become a prevalent
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This classroom focused on functional skills, such as identifying coins and going to the bathroom. When Isabel excelled in this classroom, she was moved to a classroom that was more academically oriented. Even though things seemed to be going perfect, disaster soon struck. On October 8th, 2001, Isabel pulled one students hair and hit another student in the mouth. On October 27th, Isabel refused to follow directions set out by a teacher and screamed “No,” for over an hour and a half. A few weeks after these outbreaks, the school put a formal education plan together for Isabel. This plan called for breaks to allow Isabel to calm down by listening to music. However, if these breaks did not end Isabel’s poor behavior, the education plan called for punishment, such as forcing Isabel to complete a repetitive task. Even though this task was supposed to calm Isabel down, it often only enraged her more.
When Isabel would become restless, school personnel would place Isabel in her special “office”. “Isabel’s Office” was a former storage closet made up of gray floor, cinderblock walls, and a small window on the door. Here, Isabel received one-on-one instruction until she proved she could interact with other students and obey the directions given to her by her teacher. If Isabel failed to cooperate, teachers would begin to move her desk, chairs, and other materials out of the room, leaving Isabel