March 11, 2017

Oregon State Representative Sarah Gelser says it’s “outrageous” that Pioneer School in Portland still has a seclusion room, in spite of a state law requiring they be removed by Sept. 1. Christine Miles, spokesperson for the school, admits that the room is still there, but claims that the school is awaiting guidance from the Oregon Department of Education regarding proper modifications.

A representative from the department of education said that they don’t give guidance on seclusion cells, only on seclusion rooms. “Cells” are freestanding and can be removed, while “rooms” are a part of the school’s original design. Miles says that the school is unsure which category their room falls under, according to the ODE. She also stated that the school has no intention of using the room for the time being.

Seclusion rooms had been used in several schools in Oregon and Washington until KATU did a report on a school in Longview, WA in November 2012. The story prompted investigations into other schools using these rooms, and led to the nearly unanimous vote banning these rooms in all schools in the state of Oregon.

“I don’t understand why they are there. The bill was very clear that they needed to be out of classrooms by July 1 and out of school premises altogether by September 1, so I hope Portland will come into compliance with the law,”

said Gelser in an interview with KATU.

“My interest is just getting them removed so that Portland Public Schools is in compliance with the law and the spirit of the law.”

About the author 

Laurel Joss

Laurel Joss is a freelance writer with a Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. She worked as an RDI® Program Certified Consultant and has published articles in Autism Spectrum Quarterly and on her blog She is a mother to two children, one of whom is on the autism spectrum. You can also follow her on and

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