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IE teacher allegedly made boy sit in box

February 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
A Riverside County teacher is accused of telling a boy with Asperger syndrome to take a timeout in a cardboard box. His mother is outraged and is taking legal action.

"He can't just be left in a classroom being abused. My child was abused," said mother Kim Rollins.

Rollins says a teacher at Ronald Reagan Elementary School, where her son attends fourth grade, went too far after placing him in a cardboard box. Her 10-year-old son Sage has Asperger syndrome, a form of autism.

"A special needs child that gets put in a box is just, I can't even comprehend it. How humiliating," Rollins said.

Rollins learned about the box last month after Sage came home and asked to take a pair of scissors to school.

"He wanted to decorate the box. The holes in the box for him to get in was too small," Rollins said.

She said her son told her that is where he was sent when his teacher was upset at him.

"I was hysterical because I spend a lot of my life protecting him, and the fact that someone would use that type of tool for him in any way at public school really upset me," Rollins said.

The Riverside County Sheriff's Department investigated and closed the case after they determined no criminal wrongdoing on the part of the teacher. The Lake Elsinore Unified School District has also launched an investigation and placed the teacher on paid administrative leave.

But district officials say boxes are a prescribed use.

"This is something that's prescribed in a plan that is written for students who going to be in a mainstream classroom but might not be able to fully function without some assistance and extra accommodations," said Mark Dennis of the Lake Elsinore Unified School District.

The district says the teacher does have a special education credential to teach children with special needs. But for Rollins, the box is not something she feels was used appropriately in her son's case.

"She went way outside the scope of what was allowed," she said.

Rollins also said prior to the box, her son told her that he had been allowed to sit in a closet at the back of the room, but then the box was later brought in.

She said her son has since been moved to a different classroom.