LaShelle Jones-Herrion’s sons attended Bridges Public Charter School in Ward 5 for more than two years before she learned about the “calming rooms.”

“He came home one day and told me that [a staff member] took him to a room upstairs,” she tells City Paper’s Josh Kaplan. “He said, ‘Mom, I know how to get out of one blue room, but I don’t know how to get out of the other blue room with no doors.’”

“Marzet was terrified by the calming rooms: He said staff kept him shut in seclusion, against his will, in the dark,” writes Kaplan. 

According to Jones-Herrion’s nephew, an older student attended Bridges: “Kids are going to the seclusion room all the time. For not doing their work. For not sharpening their pencil.” Jones-Herrion learned her 6-year-old son was being secluded “on a daily basis.” (Bridges denies these allegations.)

This is just one example Kaplan found while investigating seclusion and restraint in D.C. schools. The U.S. Department of Education has extensive guidelines on how seclusion and restraint should be used. Namely, never as a form of punishment or discipline. But these are just guidelines, so it’s incumbent on states to take action. 

A lot of states do have laws governing seclusion and restraint that provide meaningful protections—but according to a July report by the Autism National Committee, four states are at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to providing meaningful protections against seclusion and restraint: Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Washington, D.C. 

“The District has no laws or regulations regarding the use of restraint and seclusion at public schools and charters. Nothing governing when or how they’re used. No requirement to maintain records about it, or to report it to any District agency. No requirement to tell parents that it’s happening,” writes Kaplan. 

Nationally, this primary affects children with disabilities. And according to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2015-2016, every single student restrained or secluded was a person of color. —Amanda Michelle Gomez (tips? Email


CITY DESK LINKS, by Amanda Michelle Gomez:

  • Despite a GWU lawsuit that alleges its operator, Universal Health Services, misappropriated over $100 million, Mayor Muriel Bowser’s administration moves forward with UHS negotiations over new hospital. Final agreement to Council expected next year. [WCP]

  • Appeals court judges appear divided over a lawsuit against the president that says he illegally profited from foreign and state agents visiting his D.C. hotel. [Post]

  • Metro mobile cards for iPhone users coming at some point next year. [WAMU]

  • Councilmember Brandon Todd forces DDOT to relocate bikeshare. [Street Justice]

LOOSE LIPS LINKS, by Mitch Ryals (tips?

  • Mayor Muriel Bowser took special interest in the opening of a Whole Foods in her home Ward 4. (Not Wegmans, but Whole Foods is coming to The Parks at Walter Reed.) [WBJ]

  • Bill Starrels, former Ward 2 ANC accused of threatening to kill Muslims, is acquitted after a criminal trial. [WTOP, WCP]

  • Legal weed in Virginia? [WAMU]

YOUNG & HUNGRY LINKS, by Laura Hayes(tips?

  • The Roost will have a sushi restaurant from the siblings behind KENAKI Sushi Counter. [WCP]

  • Chef Eric Adjepong will be back on Top Chef in 2020. [Food & Wine]

  • Clarendon Ballroom is closing after a New Year’s Eve bash. [ARLNow]

  • The latest in local distilled spirits for stocking your bar cart. [Washingtonian]

  • A deep dive into the quality of life and earnings of cooks and chefs. [Eater]

ARTS LINKS, by Kayla Randall (tips?

  • Olney’s Singin’ in the Rainis a bright, sunshiny play. [WCP]

  • The Sleigher: Lucy Dacus, “Last Christmas.” [WCP]

  • Cautious Clay is back in D.C. tonight for a 9:30 Club show. [DCist]

  • Check out D.C. swag that’s actually cute. [Washingtonian]

SPORTS LINKS, by Kelyn Soong (tips?

  • The Men’s World Team Squash Championships is coming to D.C. and will be held Dec. 15-21 at Squash on Fire on M Street NW. Last year, City Paper wrote about the rising popularity of the sport in D.C. [On Tap Magazine]

  • Ten former NFL players, including Clinton Portis, Carlos Rogers, and three other that played for the local NFL team, have been charged in a scheme to defraud the league’s health care benefit program. [AP]

  • With Anthony Rendon gone, the Nationals are going after the best available third baseman: Josh Donaldson. [Post]

MAKE PLANS, by Emma Sarappo (Love this section? Get the full To Do This Week newsletter here. Tips?

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