6-year-old “traumatized” after forced stay at mental health facility

A 6-year-old girl in Florida is “traumatized” after being sent to a mental health facility following an incident at her elementary school, her mother said. Nadia Falk was allegedly “out of control,” but her mom says she has special needs and is questioning the state law that allowed the Jacksonville school to commit her to the facility.

According to a sheriff’s report, a social worker who responded to Nadia’s tantrum at Love Grove Elementary School stated the girl was a “threat to herself and others,” “destroying school property” and “attacking staff.”

She was removed from school and committed to a behavioral health center for a psychiatric evaluation under the Baker Act, which allows authorities to force such an evaluation on anyone considered to be a danger to themselves or others.

Nadia’s mother, Martina Falk, said her daughter has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a mood disorder.

“I specifically placed my daughter at this school back in August 2019 because I was told they had specifically trained staff to handle special needs children,” she said.

Surrounded by her legal team, Martina said the nearly two-day mandatory stay at the mental health center, away from her mother, did more harm than good.

“She’s traumatized. She is not herself anymore. I don’t know what the long-term effects are,” she told CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez.

Duval County Public Schools told CBS News the decision to admit a student under the Baker Act is made by a third-party licensed mental health care professional and said, “We’ve reviewed the school’s handling of this situation and find it to be compliant both with law and the best interest of this student and all other students at the school.”

But critics ask if the Baker Act being overused, especially when it comes to school kids.

In 2018 in Cocoa, Florida, a 12-year-old boy with autism was taken to a facility in a police cruiser. It was the boy’s first day in middle school and during a meltdown, he scratched himself and then made a suicidal reference.

The boy’s mom, Staci Plonsky, said the school should have called her before enforcing the Baker Act.

“The behavior plan outlined what to do if he makes verbal threats,” she said. “They only had to follow the plan.”

The number of children involuntarily transported to a mental health center in Florida has more than doubled in the last 15 years, to about 36,000, according to a 2019 report by the Baker Act Reporting Center.

“I absolutely think that the Baker Act is being overused,” said state lawmaker Jennifer Webb.

Webb’s bill to reform the nearly 50-year-old law is being debated at the state House. It would require better training for school officials and resource officers and establish more consistent rules on exactly when a parent should be notified that their child might be committed.
 
“It should only be used as a last resort, and Baker Acting 6-year-olds just seems excessive to me,” she said.

Webb believes funds allotted for schools after the mass shooting at a high school in Parkland in 2018 can be used for better training.

Martina is now looking for a different school for Nadia.

Source: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/florida-baker-act-6-year-old-girl-sent-to-mental-health-facility-by-school/

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