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Classrooms in Crisis: Bill would require Oregon districts to track 'room clears'

A “room clear” is when a disruptive student becomes unsafe and the teacher is forced to remove all of the other students from the classroom.

SALEM, Ore. — A new bill would require Oregon school districts to track "room clears."

A “room clear” is when a disruptive student becomes unsafe and the teacher is forced to remove all of the other students from the classroom.

Dozens of teachers have told KGW this happens frequently in classrooms across the state, leading to a loss of learning for all students.

“A room clear is pretty much where a student is so dysregulated, your students are not safe. And when I’m by myself, I tell my students to go next door and the other teacher knows,” said teacher Torrie Dowdy.

Lawmakers say knowing how often “room clears” are happening is nearly impossible because most districts don’t keep track.

HB 2902 requires school districts to track these clears and report them to the Oregon Department of Education.

There was a public hearing on the bill in front of the Education Committee in Salem on Wednesday afternoon.

“Before you find a solution for something, you’ve got to have all the facts. We’re working really hard to make sure we know how many room clears there are, what are the disruptive behaviors causing those room clears,” said Rep. Susan McLain, a co-sponsor of the bill and retired teacher of 40 years.

Rep. Janeen Sollman, a member of the Education Committee, said this bill would give them real numbers on how often "room clears" are happening.

“I think it’s going to provide us some solid data. I think making sure that we’re looking at all 197 school districts, seeing where some common patterns are and seeing how we can best address it,” said Sollman.

If the bill becomes law, districts would have to start tracking the clears next September.

RELATED: Classrooms in Crisis: Safe classrooms bill passes Oregon Senate

RELATED: Classrooms in Crisis: Educators of special needs students sue districts

We’ve received an overwhelming response to our Classrooms in Crisis investigative series and are committed to telling these stories and pushing for solutions. 

Do you have an idea or comment? Please let us know. Email: Callcristin@kgw.com

KGW has interviewed dozens of teachers and school administrators about an increase in verbal, physical and sometimes violent disruptions in Oregon and Southwest Washington classrooms. We’ve received emails from hundreds of additional teachers who tell similar stories. Many teachers say they don’t have the proper training, support or resources to deal with this disruptive behavior. The teachers don’t blame the kids, pointing out that many students have suffered trauma in their lives; however, they say the current law makes it difficult to handle these incidents effectively. In many cases they are forced to clear all other students out of a classroom until a disruptive student can calm down. We will continue to tell these stories and push for solutions from lawmakers and school officials. 

Do you have a comment or idea related to our Classrooms in Crisis coverage? Please email callcristin@kgw.com

Please share this link to our Classrooms in Crisis section to keep the conversation going. https://www.kgw.com/classrooms-in-crisis

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