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Pritzker orders restrictions on schools’ ‘timeout’ rooms

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.  — Gov. J.B. Pritzker has ordered severe restrictions on public schools’ use of isolation rooms for troubled children.

The Democrat said Wednesday he directed the Illinois State Board of Education to issue emergency rules governing so-called timeout rooms.

The order came a day after the Chicago Tribune and ProPublica published a report based on thousands of records showing schoolchildren were regularly isolated for reasons that often violate the law.

Records kept by schools often showed no safety reason for using timeout and recorded frightened, weeping, and shouting students’ reactions.

The rules stipulate that a “trained adult” must accompany children in unlocked rooms. The rooms must only be used for therapeutic reasons or to protect students’ and staff members’ safety.

Pritzker says he will pursue a state law on the issue.

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