Hamilton

HWDSB reviewing classroom strategies after mom says 4th grader left in 'storage closet'

A Hamilton mother is raising concerns after she says her nine-year-old son was put in a "storage closet" with the door closed as a punishment for laughing in class.

The board describes the space as a 'small room' that's regularly used by students

A Hamilton mother is raises concerns after she says her son was put in a "closet" at Prince of Wales Elementary School for laughing in class. (Google)

A Hamilton mother is raising concerns after she says her nine-year-old son was put in a "storage closet" with the door closed as a punishment for laughing in class.

The Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board describes the space in question as a "small room" and says it is a space students use for quiet work or music practice. But, a superintendent says, administrators are "reviewing classroom management strategies" for students who are "in need of a space to engage in self-regulation."

When Chaundell Henderson picked up her son from Prince of Wales Elementary School Tuesday she said he immediately began telling her he had been disciplined for laughing twice in class.

"He said 'I was put in the closet where all the music stuff is stored,'" she explained, adding she became more and more concerned as the Grade 4 students described a cramped space full of instruments and told her he was left there for the entire period.

"He was upset," Henderson explained.

She was upset too, and promptly headed back to the school where she had a heated conversation with the principal.

Henderson said she told the principal her son would not be returning to class with that teacher.

You can't just put a kid in a closet and leave him there for 40 minutes.-  Chaundell Henderson

The principal has since called to apologize for what happened, she said, and the school has arranged for her son to study music without interacting with the teacher. 

On Thursday she sent her child back to school with a cell phone in case of an emergency, but she still has concerns about how often this type of punishment was used and whether or not it will continue to happen.

"I'm not saying the teacher needs to be fired, but he needs to know you can't do stuff like that," Henderson said. "There needs to be consequences. You can't just put a kid in a closet and leave him there for 40 minutes."

Board reviewing 'classroom management'

In a statement to CBC News, Jane Macpherson, the superintendent responsible for Prince of Wales, said the board couldn't discuss individual students, citing privacy.

She added the room in question is a "small room adjoining the music class" that's regularly used as a practice room or quiet space for students to do work.

"There are many strategies that are used to support students who have escalated behaviour or who are in need of a space to engage in self-regulation," she wrote.

"While this room is a space that can be used for students, the school administration are reviewing classroom management strategies in order to better accommodate students during these times."

Incident raises questions for mom

Henderson called her son a "good kid" and said Tuesday was the first time he has ever got into trouble at school.

She has not seen the closet, despite asking to, but said the principal told her it won't be used as a form of discipline again.

Still, she questions what would have happened had there been a fire or some other kind of emergency and worries about the example it sets.

"To me it's a big deal," she said. "That's not something a person in authority should be showing a kid to do."

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