Parents claim that staff locked up children in darkened room at specialist school

Autism and AbuseCranbourne East, Victoria, Australia – staff and parents claim that autistic children have been repeatedly locked in a darkened room for up to 20 minutes for misbehaving at Marnebek School. The school is a specialist school, with many children on the autistic spectrum.

The Herald Sun reports that seven parents have come forward with the allegations and two are pursuing separate court actions against the school over restraint, seclusion and other issues.

Staff told the Herald Sun that terrified children would put up a fight when being led into the “time out” room.

Among other allegations reported are those of staff leading children around on wrist straps, and locking children in an ­outdoor courtyard alone as punishment.

Rebecca Cobb, 37, from Cranbourne said she found her tearstained autistic son, then aged 9, lying on the floor of the bare room with a bloodied nose.

“He was extremely upset, he had been crying and he looked petrified”

The school and the department have denied the parents’ ­allegations.  In a statement, principal Karen Dauncey said:

“We have never had caged areas, and we do not punish children by isolating them”

Disability advocate Julie Phillips, who is representing the parents, accused the ­Government and school of a cover-up.

The original and full article by Elissa Doherty in the Herald Sun can be read here