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Mother raises concerns about elementary school’s use of small ‘time out’ room

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Colo. — The Problem Solvers looked into the story behind a viral picture showing a 3rd grader serving detention at a local school. The image, taken at Rock Ridge Elementary School in Castle Rock, raised a serious question. Did the school take time out too far?

The girl’s mother says putting her daughter in a small room as punishment left her 8-year-old traumatized. Meanwhile the school’s principal told the Problem Solvers the room is a place where students learn.

Connie Ramstad said she was overcome with shock when she picked up her daughter Alegra who was placed in detention.

“ … To see her in that room with the door closed and crying,” Ramstad said. Her daughter was pulled out of class for allegedly threatening another girl. Ramstad was outraged her daughter was placed in the small room.

“My daughter looks like she’s having some serious issues there and you guys haven’t even comforted her,” recalled Ramstad. She took pictures of her visibly upset daughter inside what she called a jail cell.

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Ramstad said Alegra was in there for at least two hours.

“She’s traumatized. She was sick for three days. Now she’s a frightened little girl,” she added.

But what Ramstad saw as punishment fit for a criminal, Rock Ridge Principal Peter Mosby saw quite differently.

“It’s not detention room, it’s a learning hall,” Mosby said.

The Problem Solvers asked to see the room and let our cameras in. He said overwhelmed students can take a break there, do makeup work and at times it’s used for ‘time out.’

“We have all these different methods that we’ve used all based on studies that have been done, how best to support kids,” added Mosby.

He said he checks on students regularly, gives them snacks and kids are free to use the bathroom. The school has never had a problem with the room before this incident with Alegra.

In fact, Mosby’s own son has been a visitor in the past.

The Problem Solvers spoke with Sven Gaskin. His son is a 4th grader at Rock Ridge and was once sent to the room after lying to his teacher.

“He gets to go ahead relax and calm down. So, it’s a good thing,” Gaskin said.

But two hours inside the room left Alegra scared and that was enough for her mom to speak out and warn other parents.

“She doesn’t feel safe there. She doesn’t feel safe anywhere at school,” Ramstad added. She removed her daughter from Rock Ridge and Alegra is now attending a different elementary school.

The school would not comment specifically on Alegra’s situation.

Mosby did say parents are encouraged to connect with him and he will work to answer any questions they may have or address any concerns.

A spokeswoman for Douglas County Schools could not say if there are similar small rooms used in any of the other nearly 50 elementary schools, but did say the Colorado Department of Human Services visited the school last week. She added that the visit was done to be transparent about the room.

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