EUGENE, Ore. – A Lincoln City elementary school is accused of confining a 10-year-old boy to a room the size of a closet for the bulk of a school year.
According to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Eugene, the boy is non-verbal and has Down Syndrome. He was a fifth grader at Taft Elementary School in Lincoln City during the 2014-2015 school year.
The boys mother, Lynne Mason, told Fox 12 her son was having some behavioral issues and had been hitting some of his classmates.
Mason says a teacher did contact her to say the boy would be placed in a “quiet workspace,” but she says she had no idea he was spending his school days isolated in a tiny room.
“It wasn’t until I discovered that that actually looked a lot more like a prison and punishment and he wasn’t allowed to leave it, that I came to understand the truth of what had been going on,” said Mason.
The lawsuit says the boy was secluded as punishment for behavior related to his disability, which is a violation of state and federal law. It also claims the boy was kept in isolation for almost the entirety of the school year, despite the mother’s objections.
Fox 12 reached out to the Lincoln County School District for a response. They said they couldn’t comment on pending litigation, but did send copies of their policy on the restraint and seclusion of students.
It states that seclusion is only permitted when “the student’s behavior poses a threat of imminent, serious physical harm to the student or others.”
In this case, the family’s attorney insists the boy did not pose such a threat.