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Mom Claims Teacher Made Her Autistic Son Sit in Cardboard Box as Punishment

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A Lake Elsinore teacher is on paid administrative leave after allegations she made an autistic boy sit in a cardboard box as punishment were raised by the boy's mother.Kimberly Rollins has filed a claim against Lake Elsinore Unified School District, after her 10-year-old son revealed he had been made to spend class time inside a box. Sage Rollins, a fourth grader diagnosed with autism, had been enrolled in a mainstream class taught by Sabrina MacFarlane, according to the Press-Enterprise.

Rollins says she learned of her son's alleged unique classroom seating when he came home and asked for scissors. While Rollins presumed Sage wanted the scissors for a project, it turns out that's not what the boy needed them for. "He wanted them so he could cut a window in the cardboard box his teacher sent him to sit in," the Los Angeles Times reports.

Outraged, Rollins learned that MacFarlane allegedly sent Sage to sit in the box "when she was upset with him." Before the box was put into use, Sage says she sent him into a dark supply closet.

"The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department investigated the mother’s allegations and found no criminal wrongdoing and no evidence the box was being used as punishment for the child, Lt. Jim Adams said this morning," according to the Press-Enterprise.

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Nori Chandler, the Ronald Reagan Elementary School principal "told the investigator that a district counselor provided a 'decorated large cardboard box' for Sage that was placed in the back of the class, to provide a refuge for him when he had sensory overload, according to the investigative report," explains the Times.

Sage has said he enjoyed being in the box, however autism experts say isolating a child as punishment is wrong and ineffective. Rollins also says that her son, as many autistic children do, happily seeks refuge from confrontation, and that the fact that he enjoyed being in the box is not the issue, since to him that simply signals a way to "get away" with bad behavior.

Lt. Adams said this kind of case is something the parent "would need to work out with the school district." With the investigation not finding any intent by a LEUSD employee to abuse or harm Sage, Rollins has now move forward with filing her claim against the District.

Sage has since been moved to a new class with a new teacher.