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School rejects reports of traumatizing, asylum-style room for misbehaving students

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WASHINGTON HEIGHTS (PIX11) – A white padded room that’s better suited for an asylum is what The Daily News called the room designated for children with behavioral problems at KIPP STAR Elementary School in Washington Heights.  The school’s superintendent,  however, told PIX11 Wednesday that reports of an asylum-like room are overblown, and that they school’s “calm-down room” is nothing like the photograph shown by the paper.

“It’s a decent room. It has gym padding along the wall (and) a large window and a bean bag chair and a cushioned floor,” said Josh Zoiya, Superintendent of KIPP NYC Schools.

School officials said they started using the so called “calm-down room” in September 2012 for for children with extreme behavioral problems.

They said it was created with the guidance of child psychologists and social workers.  They also added that they always follow state guidelines and that the the room is never locked  and always supervised by someone either from the inside or outside.

In Washington Heights, two parents interviewed by the Daily News said their children suffered severe anxiety from the padded rooms.  One even said her child was hospitalized from one of his panic attacks.  Since that day, both parents said they pulled their children out of KIPP.

Other parents told PIX11 they were surprised by the negative spotlight on KIPP.  Neither have children who have had to be placed in the calm down room, but said all parents not only know about it, but have seen it for themselves.

The school even insisted each parent in the Daily News case signed off on the use of the room for their child as part of a special behavioral program.