LAWRENCE, MASS. (WHDH) - A Lawrence mother said she is outraged over the “relaxation room” used at her daughter’s school, calling it “worse than a jail cell.”
Ashley Martinez said her 7-year-old daughter, Juliana, has PTSD and other behavioral disorders. When Juliana is removed from her first grade classroom at Community Day Arlington Elementary School, she is placed in a relaxation room. The Lawrence School District said the room is used to calm students who pose safety threats to themselves or others but Martinez said the “relaxation room” Juliana is placed in is unsafe.
“The quality of the room is not safe,” said Martinez. “Kids who self-harm can hurt themselves on the wall, hurt themselves on the floor and the broken chair.”
Martinez said Juliana does need to be removed from her classroom sometimes but has requested that she not be put in this relaxation room again. Martinez said on Friday, Juliana was put in another room that was just as bad.
“It stresses her out and she has nightmares about it,” said Martinez.
In a statement, the Lawrence School District said, “LPS responded to the concerns expressed as soon we became aware of them, including communicating with the parent over the weekend and the following days. We will continue to work directly with families to address any concerns they may have. It’s clear the space can be improved or used more effectively. We need to be thoughtful about how to do that, and the space won’t be in use until that assessment is complete.”
Martinez said she wants change for Juliana and other students at the school.
“Someone needs to step up and change the situation,” said Martinez. “If you’re gonna have relaxation rooms, they shouldn’t be like this.”
The district said children who use the relaxation rooms are placed in there for less than 30 minutes and are accompanied by one or two staff members. They said they are within state, district and school policies.
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