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Mother hits out at ‘dirty little secret’ after at least 10 children shut in time-out room.
Children were repeatedly locked in a darkened, cell-like room at a primary school as punishment for bad behaviour.
Education officials launched an investigation at Miramar Central School in Wellington after a behaviour therapist found a 11-year-old disabled boy alone and distraught in the cupboard-sized room, with no way to get out.
The boy, who is autistic with the mental age of a toddler, was one of at least 10 children - mainstream and special needs - put in the "time out" room within the past year, largely without parent knowledge or consent.
While the use of the room was not illegal, it was "outmoded", the investigation found.
The school says it will phase out the use of the room, however, the boy's mother said more accountability was needed, and was planning to go to both the Ombudsman and possibly police.
"I'm horrified a school would do that," she said. "My son is petrified of the dark and so this would have been a truly frightening experience for him."
The mother, who the Herald has chosen not to name to protect her child's privacy, said the use of the room was not only cruel, but dangerous, and she believed the school had been dishonest with parents.
"It's their dirty little secret. There's a total lack of transparency," she said.
The mother found out about the room in July, after her son's behavioural therapist, Shawna Chow, went to collect the child from a playground at the school's Special Needs Unit but couldn't find him.
"I asked if anyone knew where he was and a teacher aide told me he was in 'time out'. I've been at that school five years but I'd never heard of it," she said.