Senator GillespieARLINGTON HEIGHTS – State Senator Ann Gillespie (D-Arlington Heights) announced that she is taking action on the abuse of isolation rooms in public schools. A Chicago Tribune and ProPublica Illinois investigation revealed that school staff placed children in isolation rooms over 20,000 times in the 2017-2018 academic year.

“Classrooms shouldn’t instill fear in our children,” Gillespie said. “Students deserve to feel safe with their teachers and school staff, not made to feel like literal prisoners.”

Isolation rooms function much like solitary confinement for prison inmates. They are small, locked chambers where children have no interaction with their peers and limited interaction with adults. Some don’t even have a place to sit other than the floor.

Senate Bill 2315 would make Illinois the 20th state to ban the use of isolation rooms in schools.
State Representative Jonathan Carroll (D-Northbrook) filed identical legislation in the Illinois House under House Bill 3975. The two legislators have vowed to work together to end the traumatic practice.

Current law allows school staff to isolate a student if they pose a danger to themselves or others. However, the investigation revealed that the isolation rooms are often used as a punishment for refusing to do classwork, swearing and other behavior that does not pose a threat to safety.

Governor JB Pritzker directed the Illinois State Board of Education to end the use of isolation rooms. ISBE amended their rules to only allow timeouts with a trained adult in the room, an unlocked door and “only for therapeutic reasons or protecting the safety of students and staff.”

Both bills will be considered when legislators return to Springfield in January.