"If a student gets on your nerves and you a have a timeout room and you can put the child in a place where you don't have to deal with them, the tendency is to leave them there," says C. Michael Nelson, a professor of special education at the University of Kentucky in Lexington.
At the combined middle school and high school in Clairton, Pa., students can find themselves sitting in a former girls' locker room for hours at a time.The school replaced the showers, toilets, and plumbing with a dozen study carrels from the library and relabeled it the isolated classroom environment -- the ICE room.
Teachers can send students to the room for one class period at a time, instructing them to mull over misdeeds and write up a plan for better behavior.The school's two principals can also direct students to spend whole days in the ICE room, in lieu of suspensions for infractions such as excessive tardiness or insubordination.
..."It's very important to understand the function of the student's behavior before you leap to a procedure that might indirectly reinforce the behavior you don't want," Professor Nelson says.
Currently in Minnesota, there is no suggested time limit, and the rooms can be locked if equipped with automatic releases for fire alarms.The proposed time limit and elimination of the locks will be the subject of a series of public hearings this month.