A state investigation has been opened at Hudson Middle School in Caldwell County, N.C., following allegations that a teacher forced a student with special needs to sit in a cardboard box as a disciplinary measure, WCNC-TV reports.
Joy Amatuccio, the 14-year-old student's mother, said she first became aware of the situation when another parent told her what the teacher had allegedly been doing.
"She asked the teacher what the box was for and said the teacher told her it was for Jacob. She would wheel him in there and let down the flap. He was all alone, in the dark, in a box," Amatuccio told the station. "She used it to calm him down, as a form of time out."
According to WSOC-TV, Amatuccio's son, Jacob, incurred a serious brain injury as a toddler that resulted in mental and physical handicaps as well as partial paralysis and the potential for outbursts. The school had developed a special plan to help calm him down in these instances. That plan does not, however, include the use of a cardboard box.
Libby Brown, the school district's community services director, told WSOC-TV that the district does not condone isolating a student as a form of discipline.
While Amatuccio learned her son had been placed in the box in early April, she says the box was not immediately removed despite having reported the situation to Bill Griffin, the school's principal, according to the Hickory Daily Record.
Despite the mother's claims that Griffin did not respond quickly enough to the accusations, Brown told the paper that the principal responded "promptly and responsibly."
Brown also said the teacher in question had been put on paid suspension for three days.
Jacob has since been moved to another classroom.