EDUCATION
12/03/2012 02:09 pm ET | Updated Dec 04, 2012

Tanner Cagle, Idaho Kindergartener, Shut In 'Closet' And Forgotten By Teacher

An Idaho father is furious after his son's kindergarten teacher locked the 5-year-old boy in a small, dark room and forgot him there for at least an hour.

"They're saying, 'Oh, the door's unlocked, he could've got out,'" James Cagle of Caldwell told ABC news. "He's 5 years old, if he was put in that room he's supposed to stay there. And then the teacher goes home."

Cagle said that he and his wife began to worry when their son, Tanner, didn't come home on the bus Wednesday. After about an hour, the couple went to Washington Elementary School to look for the boy -- and found him in what Cagle called "a closet."

He tells KTVB that Tanner was scared, had urinated on himself and was crying in the dark.

The teacher has admitted to placing the boy in the room as punishment and to forgetting about him.

While Cagle said the room was "like a jail cell," Caldwell Superintendent Tim Rosandick told KTVB that the room is used for tutoring sessions, as well as for pre-approved student management for students with special needs. The room is not, however, intended for disciplinary use by general educators, and Rosandick said the teacher "should not have done that."

District officials have expressed their regrets about the incident. But Cagle says the teacher is still in the classroom and he wants to see her punished.

"If someone called the police and said that hey there's a dad that locked his kid in a small room with no lights and he was in there so long and he was crying and he urinated his pants, I would be going to jail," Cagle told ABC News. "If not, then at the very least [Child Protective Services] would be here taking my children. How is it any different for a school teacher?"

The incident in Caldwell comes as dozens of families across the country sue schools in a fight against isolation and physical restraint as methods of school discipline.

An Education Department report in March found that schools physically retrained students 39,000 times during the 2009-2010 school year. There are currently no federal standards for the use of seclusion and restraint in schools, and only 17 states have specific laws that limit their use.

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