Autistic boy kept in 'isolation rooms' at Peel schools, lawsuit alleges
$16M lawsuit alleges 5 Toronto-area schools punished boy by placing him in small, locked rooms
A Toronto-area family is suing the Peel District School Board for $16 million after their autistic son was allegedly separated from other students and kept in what they call "isolation rooms."
Karen Thorndyke said since 2006 five different schools in Mississauga and Brampton punished her son, Christian, for outbursts or misbehaviour by placing him in small, locked rooms the board calls alternative learning spaces.
None of the allegations has been proven in court.
Thorndyke said sometimes the boy soiled himself in the room because he wasn’t allowed to leave to use the bathroom.
"You don't want to believe it. You don't want to think that these spaces are being used in ... ways they shouldn't be," Thorndyke said.
She said she's worried about bringing her son to school now, and her son said he feels scared and anxious as well.
Peel District School Board said it can’t disclose any information about the case in a news release sent to CBC News.
"We remain deeply committed to supporting this child and his family," the statement said.
Margaret Spoelstra of Autism Ontario said she was surprised by the lawsuit, as the Peel board has been a "leader" when it comes to educating students with autism in the past.
Thorndyke said she hopes the lawsuit will make the board rethink its policy of placing students into the rooms.
"I wish they would get rid of them altogether," Thorndyke said.
Click the video to see the television report by CBC Toronto's Matt Llewellyn.