KISSIMMEE, Fla. - According to an Osceola County Sheriff's Office report, a room inside Poinciana High School used to discipline students is either a "small office" or a "closet."
The report states that a teacher's aide pushed Marquette Carmichael's autistic 17-year-old child into the room.
"Her minor child had been locked in a closet by his paraprofessionals and teachers in Poinciana High School," said Shannon Ligon, a lawyer at Bates Ligon who is representing the Carmichael family.
The report states that the room is about five-by-15 feet, with only a desk and some filing cabinets inside. There are no windows, just a motion-activated light, and the door has a small hole at the bottom, about the size of a sheet of printer paper. The staff calls it a "quiet room."
"I hope all children in his classroom, all children in all schools, for no one to be placed in a closet because of a behavioral issue," Carmichael said.
The report states that the student stayed inside for two class periods -- which can take up to two hours -- until the aide let him out and walked with him around the school to calm him down.
"We're not only concerned about the safety of our client, but the teachers and other students, as well," Ligon said.
Deputies contacted the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) about the incident. The victim's lawyers say DCF has turned the case over to the State Attorney's Office.
"I was a wreck," Carmichael said, "I'm getting a call from a deputy sheriff about my autistic son, who I know is non-violent, who is non-self-injurious, he's not a runner, he's a good kid. He's never been in trouble."
Neither the State Attorney's Office nor the Osceola County School District responded to our inquiries about this incident.before the publication of this article.
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