In Australia, photos have surfaced of a cage used to lock up a 10-year-old boy with autism. The structure was built in March and removed 14-days later after the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Directorate found out about the cage. Apparently, the cage was made for one specific student and approved by the school’s principal.
ACT Education Directorate Director-General Diane Joseph explained, “The structure was basically a fenced-in structure inside a classroom. The structure was built for one particular student. The decision to erect such a structure raises so many questions. I have asked for the investigation to be treated with the upmost urgency.”
Thankfully, the principal does not work for the school anymore and will not be hired at another educational facility. The Education Department conducted a report to find out more information about the “inappropriate structure.” The Canberra Times reports that the structure cost $5,195, which was taken out of school funds, and was built as a “space for a student to clam down” or when the child “needed a quiet space.”
Joy Burch, an ACT Education Minister, said the cage was “absolutely unacceptable” for a withdrawal space. She said, “I am immensely disappointed, disturbed, and quite frankly disgusted. This decision was wrong and the officer responsible will no longer be a school principal or be working within a school. School principals must be held responsible for their actions.”
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After the cage was discovered, the Australian government initiated an audit of withdrawal spaces in other government schools and discovered no evidence that this had occurred at other facilities. Additionally, University of Canberra academic Tony Shaddock will be heading up a review panel to investigate withdrawal spaces for kids with special needs in Australia. Burch said the following about the panel: “The Expert Panel’s review will be a broader look at the policy framework and practices that support schools in responding to students with complex needs and challenging behaviors.”
Now disability education specialist, Kate Ellis, has been assigned to the school.
She told the Daily Mail that the mistreatment of this student was shocking and deeply disturbing. She added, “The abuse or neglect of students with disability is absolutely unacceptable. All students – including those with disability – deserve to be recognized as learners and supported to achieve their best. As a society, we have a responsibility to ensure our schools are safe and caring environments for all students, at all times.”