Principal Suspended For Building Metal Cage To Put Special Needs Student – Termed It ‘Withdrawal Space’

A principal of an elementary school has been suspended after the school erected a metal cage to put a special needs student in.

An Australian principal at a public school in Canberra, who erected a cage-like “withdrawal space” meant for an elementary school student with special needs, has been suspended pending an investigation into the “disturbing” incident. The principal used metal pool fencing to build a two-meter by two-meter enclosure inside a classroom because a student was “exhibiting challenging behavior,” confirmed officials investigating the bizarre incident.

The structure, which was supposedly created on March 10, was razed on March 27 after an unidentified member of the school community made a complaint to the Human Rights Commission and Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Education Department, who ordered the school to do so. Officials haven’t released the name of the school or any details about the boy, but according to local media reports, the student is a 10-year-old boy with autism.

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The education minister for the ACT told reporters Thursday that she was “immensely disappointed, disturbed and, quite frankly, disgusted” that the structure was built.

“Whether it was in the school for 17 days, 17 minutes or 17 seconds, it had no place there. Words can’t put into place the absolute disappointment and horror I have that in our schools that anyone would consider a structure of this nature in any way, shape or form acceptable.”

Ever since the discovery of the cage, allegations about mistreatment of children, especially those with special needs, have been making the rounds. Children with Disability Australia made a submission to the UN Committee on the “Rights of Persons with a Disability,” saying members’ children had been locked in time-out rooms for extended periods, schools had employed martial arts instructors for “behavior management,” and children had been denied requests to go to the toilet.

While the school acknowledged the presence of the inhuman cage on its premises, it strongly denied that a child was “locked” inside the same. The school maintains that the cage, which it labeled as “withdrawal space,” did not have a lock.

Withdrawal spaces are areas designated for students with special needs. However, these spaces have to promote serenity and have to feature a tranquil environment where children can calm down. Many schools augment the space with special tools and even teachers who help the disturbed child find inner peace. But this school thought a cage would suffice as if they were criminals who had to be taught a lesson.

[Image Credit | Getty Images Via Irish Mirror]