Colorado student says teacher shut him in dark closet as punishment

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ADAMS COUNTY, CO. — A middle school student said a teacher shut him in a dark closet, facing the wall as punishment during a detention Thursday, and now the teacher is on paid administrative leave.

Alex Manzanares said when he showed up for detention during lunch at Adams City Middle School, the band teacher overseeing the detention directed him into the closet.

“It didn’t feel right. Like, yeah, I have lunch detention, but why am I being put in this room? With the lights turned off and the door is closed?” Manzanares said.

Manzanares suffers from seizures that can be triggered by stress. He texted his mom that he was in the dark closet.

“I got the texts and I texted him back, ‘Why? What happened?’ [I] started calling him because I didn’t get a response. Texting him, ‘Son, are you OK? Answer my calls,’ because I didn’t know if he was OK,” Melissa Manzanares-Lopez said.

Plus, Manzanares said there was another student also serving detention during lunch but he wasn’t banished to the closet.

“There was this one other kid that had lunch detention, [the teacher] was talking to him. But once he was done talking to him, he let him go but I was stuck in there for the whole lunch,” said Manzanares.

“The way this went is not appropriate,” Manzanares-Lopez said.

Manzanares-Lopez said she contacted the school repeatedly and went there Friday to try to get answers from administrators.

However, Manzanares-Lopez said school staff gave her little information while she was told district administrators were unavailable to speak with her.

“That really is my biggest issue — the school, the school district, and how they handled the situation,” Manzanares-Lopez said.

A district spokesman said in a statement there’s an active investigation underway and the teacher involved is on paid administrative leave. The spokesman said the district is prohibited from saying more because it’s a personnel issue.

Manzanares-Lopez said she’s not arguing that her son shouldn’t be punished, but she said shutting him in a dark closet is out of line.

“I definitely wanted answers, for his sake, for his safety,” Manzanares-Lopez said.

“I was just talking in class,” Manzanares said. “Why do I have to be put in this room with the lights off and the door closed?”

Manzanares-Lopez said she will continue pressing the school district for answers.

“I don’t believe Alex was the first kid put in there, but I want him to be the last,” Manzanares-Lopez said.

Manzanares-Lopez has switched Manzanares out of the music class he was enrolled in that was taught by that teacher. She’s also considering home-schooling him for the rest of the semester.

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