State Investigates After “Scream Rooms” Outrage

Students say they can hear classmates screaming.

The day after parents of Farm Hill Elementary School students in Middletown expressed outraged about the way the school is dealing with misbehaving students, the school is making some changes and the state is investigating.

Parents who attended a board of education meeting on Tuesday night were upset about teachers and staff putting the children, including those with special needs, in what they called "scream rooms." The school district calls them "timeout rooms."

One parent described the rooms as, “scream closets, where kids bang their heads off of concrete walls.”

“The building custodians had to go in and clean blood off the walls and clean urination off the floors,” the parent said.

"I learned last year from my daughter that she was put in a closet that had holes in the walls and no windows and (was) locked in there," one mother said.

The Office of the Child Advocate is investigating.

Supt. Michael Frechette has also outlined a plan that would provide additional staff and resources at Farm Hill Elementary.

The plan, released on Wednesday morning, includes increasing the school psychologist position from part-time to full-time, bringing in a behavioral technician to address behavioral needs and having an intern from St. Joseph College help in developing behavior plans.

It also includes adding a student management coordinator and developing a climate committee to establish an action plan to address building needs. Additional support will come in the form of a student management coordinator, an education consultant to work with parents, staff and administration.    

The school also plans to deal with inappropriate language and physical aggression through in-school suspensions and add a talking and learning center and an in-house mentoring program.

Nocera and Dr. Frechette will also be at a Farm Hill PTA meeting on Thursday night to further address parents’ concerns.

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