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Australian autistic students put in fenced pen

School: We did it to protect them

A primary school in Australia defended putting their autistic students in a fenced-off area, saying they wanted to keep them safe.

The pen was reported to have been separate from a larger play area for other students and has just one tree, one bench and no grass.

Michael Coutts-Trotter, head of the New South Wales Department of Education, said the area was fenced off to keep them off the busy road near the school. He told the Telegraph that the area needed to be grassed, but praised the school for the way it dealt with autistic students.

"There are some children who, when they are new arrivals to the school, come without knowing to behave safely in the playground," he said.

"It's a school that has a busy road next to it and some of the children who come into the school have a history of running out of schools, which in this case could mean running on to a very busy road and dying."

That's no excuse, said a disability services spokesman, Andrew Constance, who told Australia's ABC News that he has seen cattle yards in better condition.

"You cannot treat children with autism in this way," he said.

"It is, I think, no doubt in breach of every discrimination act in the country."

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542 comments
Mar 14, 2010, 5:05 pm
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The playground at my elementary school was that lousy. I don’t even think we had a bench.

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The area has no grass and one tree.

On the Web

Telegraph: Autistic children placed in 'pen' during school playtime

ABC News: School criticized for putting autistic kids in pen