State Education Dept. releases report on controversial Fulton Time Out rooms

Time Out room pipe / file photo

CNY Central has obtained the State Education Department TMs final report on its investigation into a complaint about the time out rooms at the Fourth Street School operated by Oswego County BOCES in Fulton.

As we reported exclusively last April, parent Wendi Starusnak lodged the complaint after her daughter allegedly injured herself while confined to a time out room at the school for children with special needs. The girl suffered a number of bruises after being locked in the darkened closet-sized room.

After investigators paid a visit to the school, Oswego County BOCES was ordered to immediately discontinue the use of the time out rooms.

The final report found that the time out rooms violated state standards in that they were too small, not well lit, potentially hazardous and could not be adequately monitored from outside.

Investigators found that Starusnak TMs daughter was placed in the room 23 times between March 9th and April 1st, 2011. On March 28th, the child was kept in the room for two hours and 45 minutes.

Investigators also found that there was no documentation that the special education teacher and two teaching assistants received formal training in restraint procedures for unruly students.

It found that Oswego BOCES had no written procedures for the use of emergency interventions at the Fourth Street School. Although Oswego BOCES had a| policy on the use of time out rooms consistent with state regulations, written procedures were not developed or implemented correctly, the report stated.

Oswego BOCES was issued seven citations by the State Education Department and ordered to come up with corrective action by October 31st.

Oswego County BOCES Superintendent, Dr. Joseph Camerino says he intends to permanent close time out rooms in the wake of a State Education Department investigation. We won TMt use them. We were going toward that goal anyway, we have accelerated that based on this one incident. Camerino says he TMs taken no disciplinary action against anyone at the Fourth Street School.

Wendi Starusnak told CNY Central's Jim Kenyon, "I don't know the proper steps to make sure someone is punished for this, but if I did it in my home, she (Jenna) wouldn't be here anymore." meaning she would be prosecuted for child abuse. Starusnak also said, "the room was disgusting, just a closet with cement walls and no light. It was barbaric."

Read the final report.