The Ecole Sainte-Bernadette School in Moncton, Canada has recently been criticized for their treatment of special needs children, after a grandmother removed her autistic grandson from the school. Ecole Sainte-Bernadette, like all other schools in the district, has “isolation rooms” or “time out rooms” that are used when children are being overly noisy and distracting to the other students.
Claire LaBelle pulled her grandson Jean-Michel from the school after she saw what the isolation rooms looked like firsthand. She knew that Jean-Michel’s parents had known about the isolation room and why children would be put there, but upon viewing it LaBelle described it as a “little jail.”
The isolation rooms in the school district consist of three walls, a door, and a window. The teacher’s assistant holds the door shut while the child is inside, and peers through the window to make sure that the child doesn’t hurt themselves. A representative from the school district said that the rooms are not used often, and they are there for children to let out their frustrations when they are having fits, as well as to have some quiet time.
Starting roughly a month earlier, Jean-Michel had started getting very upset and talking to his parents about the isolation room. The thought of the isolation room made Jean-Michel so anxious that one evening he vomited, and was extremely nervous the next day before he had to go to school.
Jean-Michel described the isolation rooms and what it was like: “You are not supposed to go into something like that. You are supposed to go in the office. … But for me it’s different.”
LaBelle plans on homeschooling Jean-Michel until she finds a suitable environment for him to be educated in. She has filed an official complaint against the school with the Educational Department, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the province’s human rights commission.