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Recapping the LPS "Seclusion Room" Controversy Thus Far

From the publication of shocking allegations to competing statements to calls for an independent investigation and beyond.

In recent days, the Lexington community has been abuzz over .

First came the opinion piece published by the New York Times in which former Lexington resident Bill Lichtenstein claimed his daughter, then a 5-year-old kindergartener enrolled as the , “was kept in a seclusion room for up to an hour at a time over the course of three months, until we discovered what was happening.” That discovery, Lichtenstein alleges, was on Jan. 6, 2006, when he and the girl’s mother found their daughter standing naked and alone “on the cement floor of a basement mop closet, illuminated by a single light bulb.”

Next came the , in which Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash said, after a review of “detailed contemporaneous notes” he found that staff members followed district protocols during the days in question. That was Monday. 

On Tuesday, Lichtenstein . And, later that night, parents and School Committee members called for an independent investigation to bridge the gap between Lichtenstein’s account and Ash’s review.

Also on Tuesday emerged reports that LPS students being placed in “timeout rooms” outside of their classrooms was more widespread than the previous perception, and that the practice may not have been discontinued as early as administrators have said.

At the School Committee meeting, one mother spoke movingly about her son being put in a timeout room outside the Fiske ILP kindergarten classroom in 2008 and how it negatively affected him. And in a report that night on WBZ, a senior shared his own experiences in an isolation room as a first-grader here. See that report on CBSLocal.

Wednesday came the websites, and increasing sentiment among some that the young girl’s name should not be used so freely.

Early in the day, residents and others interested in the situation came across the websites SavingRose.com and RoseFund.us, which both announced “The Rose Fund” was coming soon. Text on the sites said, “It takes a village to raise a child. It only takes one person to save one. There is a child out there who needs your help.”

Later in the day, the RoseFund.us site redirected to the Children’s Defense Fund website, and SavingRose.com attempted to redirect there, but with an error message.

To see screen grabs of the websites while they were up, click through the photos posted above.

According to DomainTools.com, RoseFund.us is a GoDaddy domain registered in Lichtenstein’s name on July 14 of this year, while SavingRose.com he registered in November of last year.

Speaking to Patch on Wednesday afternoon, Lichtenstein said his plan was to start a fund to support journalists reporting on child welfare issues, and that he included that sentiment in a draft of his OpEd when he began shopping it around to news organizations back in July. 

Lichtenstein has also recently launched the a "Terrifying Discipline" Weebly, where media coverage of his allegations and the community's response have been posted.

According to a late-breaking news first reported by The Globe on Wednesday, Superintendent of Schools Paul Ash has

Previously, Ash had said children were never left alone in the rooms, which differentiated the district's protocol and "time out" rooms from "seclusion rooms," in which staff was inaccessible for students.

Joe Deveau September 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM
First of all, they are not seclusion rooms. They are closets. I don't know any parents who would place they're children in a closet when they become disruptive or a bit out of control. The superintendent should be fired today.
Shannon D. September 13, 2012 at 12:22 PM
Lexington and Paul Ash's language is so odd. He says they are "asking DCF to investigate" this child abuse. It would be like saying that they found a child stabbed in a school and they have decided after consultation with the school board and a PR consultant to "call the police in to investigate."
Sue d September 14, 2012 at 02:00 AM
Thank you Dr. Ash for speaking up. Too often School officials remain quiet and do not stand up to outrageous allegations. The LPS should be commended on trying to create an inclusive environment for this very disturbed child. If lexington did not have alternative space for behavioral crisis intervention, children with serious emotional and behavioral disorders would to readily be sent to restrictive day and residential treatment centers. Schools like this are institutional settings...out of the mainstream without any exposure to typical children. Mr. Lichtenstein should be ashamed of himself exposing his daughter like this...and sharing his awarded settlement agreement $$$$$$$ with the tax payers of Lexington.
Janie Sand September 14, 2012 at 03:43 AM
Sue You obviously don't have children. So you think it's OK to tell parents whose children were abused that in order to get funds to help them they should be silent on their child's abuse and others? Really? Seriously? I am glad he came forward.
Janie Sand September 14, 2012 at 04:07 AM
"Lexington Superintend on the Defensive" Fantastic: http://www.necn.com/09/13/12/Broadside-Lexington-superintendent-on-th/landing_broadside.html?blockID=772919&feedID=11110
LexParent September 14, 2012 at 04:12 AM
Janie - he only came forward AFTER he was paid, and after the money ran out. If he genuinely thought children other were in danger of the same thing, does that mean that he chose the money in return for confidentially, and only came forward when there nothing to lose monetarily, years after the room was closed? He's years too late to play the hero. That's brave? The allegations are bad, and feel terrible for these people. In defense of the school, my experience having had a child with the same issues, in the same school, were exactly opposite. I wish that his child had the same patient and effective experience that my child had. But from what I've read, his actions and timing are dubious.
Janie Sand September 14, 2012 at 05:54 AM
His child was abused. Other children were abused. The school knew, then it was reported to state agencies, the superintendent and later in an article. From what I read most of the "settlement" was for services for his child. I find it hard to see where he did anything wrong. As a parent who has had similar things happen to a child, it can take years to get it together to come forward. Look at that woman who is now coming forward in the last day or two about her child who was abused like Mr. Lichensten's in 2001. Shame on her? I don't think so.
chris February 11, 2013 at 12:42 PM
I am horrified. I am devistated. I am a teacher and a parent. I found out last week that my step daughter (autistic, anxiety, adhd, MR, bi polar) has been shut in a "closet' in her school. As a former employee of a child care center in Lexington I almost wrote to the special ed people I had previously worked with. A town I thought had it together and had a great program. My child doesn't have the communication skills. She is unable to articulate what has been going on. Not only that, adults that we trusted, have been doing this to her and she thinks its normal. Like any abuse situation- they don't know better, they think this is normal and acceptable. This is Horrifying. This abuse of power must stop. There are better ways to manage these situations. Understanding why the behavior is happening, preventing it from happening, and replacing the behavior. It isn't easy. It requires training. It requires work. But if we are going to mainstream children we must meet their needs.

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