|Casper McBride. (QMI Agency)
BARRIE, Ont. — A Tory MPP said the Simcoe County District School Board in Barrie, Ont., responsible for throwing one of its special needs students into a padded room, needs to come out of the Dark Ages.
Hayley McBride said her 4-year-old son, Casper, was put into a “calming room” at Portage View Public School during class time three times without her consent, and she wasn’t made aware of it until her son told her.
While many people understand the need for the room, not having a parent’s permission to use it goes against the grain, MPP Rod Jackson said Friday.
“This school board is going rogue,” Jackson said. “No other school board in North America deals with kids they way they do. They’re living in the Dark Ages and need to come into the 21st century.”
Parents across Canada are reaching out to talk about the horror stories of their emotionally fragile children sent to calming rooms in their own schools.
The calming room in the Portage View Public School in Barrie is padded and there is a window in the door. However, some school boards don’t put unruly special needs children in padded rooms at all.
One of the most vocal parents, Dawn Gratton from London, Ont., whose autistic son attends a Thames Valley District School Board school, said her son has been put into a former computer-server room off the library.
“Last year, there was still a computer on a table, with all of the electrical cords and stuff,” Gratton said.
“I’ve been there when they’re holding the door to the room closed and he’s crying, ‘Let me out, I’ll be good, please let me out’,” she said. “It’s confusing to him, because they tell him it’s supposed to be a positive room for him to go to, and then they don’t let him out.”
School board chairman Robert North said he can’t comment on the McBride’s concern because of privacy issues.
“It sounds like there needs to be a conversation between parents, staff and the school board,” North said, adding he believed conversations were happening at various levels about the incident.
“Every student in Ontario deserves to learn in an environment where they feel supported and respected,” Ministry of Education spokesman Andrew Morrison wrote in an e-mail to QMI Agency.