Lesson: Treating a child like an animal will not fly.
The principal of a public school in Canberra has lost her job after instigating the building of a cage in a classroom to contain a boy with special needs.
The two-by-two-metre cage – made of pool fencing and featuring a self-closing latch and door – was purpose-built for a 10-year-old boy with autism.
An inquiry found the student, who was believed to be physically abusive towards his teacher and other students, was put in the cage by staff on one occasion to calm him down, Fairfax Media reports.
It found that the $5195 required to build the cage came out of the school’s coffers without consultation or approval by the ACT Education Directorate.
The principal has lost her job and public servants within the directorate could face sanctions after investigation revealed they did not act with “sufficient urgency or alarm” after being alerted to the cage by a member of the school community on March 7.
Fairfax Media reports it took another nine days for the concern to be escalated to a senior executive.
The cage was removed the following day, March 27.
Government schools across the state were audited and no similar ‘withdrawal spaces’ were found.
ACT Education Minister Joy Burch said she “remained disappointed and disturbed” over how the cage had ever come to be constructed in a school classroom – a discovery that made headlines around the country.
“We sold Canberra families short on this one and it will never happen again,” Ms Burch said.
Watch the press conference here: