Regional Public Journalism
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon House Takes Aim At School Seclusion Cells

Chris Lehman
Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers are trying to reduce the use of so-called seclusion cells in schools. The small rooms are used when out-of-control students need a place to calm down without posing a risk to themselves or others. The Oregon House Wednesday passed a measure that would ban the starkest versions of these rooms.

The use of seclusion rooms in schools is strictly regulated in Oregon. But the size and shape of them are not. This measure would ban versions described as "freestanding, self-contained units." That led one lawmaker to ask whether a school could simply put a child into a closet. One of the measure's backers, Democratic Representative David Gomberg, responded that it appeared that could still happen.

"As I read the bill, representative, I would believe that a closet would be considered, awkwardly enough, a room. And it's seclusion cells that are addressed in this piece of legislation."

Gomberg says separate legislation still being crafted would create minimum size limits for seclusion rooms.

It's not clear whether any Oregon schools use seclusion cells that would be banned under the current measure. But the chief supporters say their goal is to get rid of four specific seclusion cells used at a school in Portland which serves students with severe behavioral and mental health issues.