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Lawsuit: Jacksonville school used 'discipline box' to punish special needs students

by: Cole Heath, Action News Jax Updated:

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Only Action News Jax is revealing how Duval County Public Schools is accused of allowing some special needs students to be placed in a so-called “discipline box” made partially of drywall.

A 37-page lawsuit says it happened at Love Grove Elementary School in the Spring Glen neighborhood of Jacksonville.


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The lawsuit claims a 3-year-old special needs student and others were placed in the box inside a preschool special needs classroom. The lawsuit alleges DCPS does not have an adequate policy in place to property train and supervise their special needs teachers.

The mother of the child involved in the lawsuit took a photo of the “discipline box” inside a classroom in 2012.

The lawsuit says students knew the discipline box as jail, and if they were sent to jail, it was a form of punishment.

“I represent a family where a child had been placed in the box. Again, not a valid behavioral technique,” Attorney Aaron Bates said.

The lawsuit says the school district also failed to train or supervise its teachers and staff, and the alleged mistreatment also took place at another local elementary school in the district and on the school bus.


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“I think you have to look at every individual situation and what are the facts of the situations. I think when you look at the way we serve [special needs] students, we’ve made huge strides over the last four years,” DCPS Superintendent Dr. Nikolai Vitti said.

A DCPS spokesman says it is district policy to not comment on active lawsuits. However, the district is looking into the current status of the teachers named in the lawsuit accused of using the discipline box, to see if they are still with the district.