Investigation into the use of seclusion at Miramar Central School

On July 25, the Ministry of Education received a complaint from a parent about her son, a student at Miramar Central School, and his confinement in a small dark room at the school. The letter, to the Ministry and the School Board of Trustees, was dated 22 July.

We immediately contacted the school and commissioned an independent investigation into the complaint, with the agreement of the school.

The report is being released with the removal of any identifying details of children or parents.

What did the Miramar investigation find:

  • It found a small room, lockable from the outside, was being used to confine some children for short periods of time
  • It was being used for timeout for children in response to hitting, disruption, disobedience, as well as biting, kicking, choking, slapping etc.
  • The exact number of children put in the room, or the number of incidents in total isn’t clear because of poor record keeping
  • Based on the records the school did keep, there were 12 children involved in the use of “time out” since 2014. There are 8 children listed in the report table, and four additional ones that emerged in the investigation
  • There were at least 46 instances of use of the time out room recorded. With other instances of time out, it wasn’t clear whether this meant use of the room, or some other form of time out. 
  • It wasn’t clear how often this was happening because of poor record keeping by the school
  • There was a lack of transparency around the way the school was supposed to be communicating the use of the time out room with parents

The school has advised us they last used the seclusion room on September 20 and has now removed the door to the room so it can’t be used again. We are working with the school on new, positive behaviour management policies, which the school has committed to implementing.

We are clear that schools should not be using seclusion rooms.

Guidelines will shortly be issued to all schools that aim to help those that use these rooms to phase the use of them out, and to bring in other behaviour management strategies. We consulted with parents and disability organisations on the guidelines, which have been produced by an Advisory Group made up of representatives from across the sector.


Investigation of Parent Complaint at Miramar Central School Wellington [PDF, 6.2 MB]



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