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Grassley wants answers about seclusion room use in Iowa

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Iowa Senator Charles Grassley said an investigation into seclusion rooms could find out how big of a problem they are.

The rooms, sometimes called isolation rooms or sensory rooms, are used in schools throughout Iowa to calm students down, including Davenport. They're sometimes used for special needs children and to prevent students from causing injury to themselves and others.

"We're trying to find out how big the problem is," Sen. Grassley said. "So we're asking for this study. And after the study is done, then we'll decide whether some action needs to be taken."

Last year, the Iowa Department of Education found the Iowa City School District used seclusion rooms inappropriately, sometimes as a punishment.

"There's some information coming that seems to be the overuse of it," Grassley said. "And we obviously know that some schools have been doing that. And they're probably doing it within the law."

The investigation would be conducted by the U.S. Inspector General and U.S. Department of Education.

Sen. Grassley, along with Iowa Senator Joni Ernst, made the call for an investigation last month.

Sen. Grassley said even if the investigation finds something wrong, it would likely be up to schools and the state to make a change.

"I'm not sure I'm going to look for a congressional response to it," Grassley said. "But I think maybe transparency will bring more accountability by local schools and states, and maybe make sure that there's more disciplined use of these solitude areas."

While both Senators from Iowa have called for this investigation, Iowa U.S. Congressman Dave Loebsack has called for an end to seclusion rooms altogether.