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A 6-year-old was sent to a mental health facility because she was 'out of control' at school

A Jacksonville Sheriff's Office incident report states that authorities were called to the school after the girl was "destroying school property, attacking staff, was out of control, and running out of school."

A 6-year-old was sent to a mental health facility because she was 'out of control' at school
Image Source: Getty Images (Representative)

On February 4, two police officers exited the Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville with their "suspect." The suspect—a 6-year-old special-needs girl with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and global developmental delay—was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility because she was "out of control" at school. Nadia King spent two days at the River Point Behavioral Health center in Florida without parental consent, Martina Falk. The little girl has been unable to verbally communicate everything that happened to her while at the facility.



 

According to CNN, a Jacksonville Sheriff's Office incident report states that authorities were called to the school after Nadia was "destroying school property, attacking staff, out of control, and running out of school." A clinical social worker at the school told the responding officers that the little girl was "a threat to herself and others." The body-cam footage of one of the officers shows the child exiting the school holding the deputy's hand while showing none of the allegedly violent behavior that would have her involuntarily committed to the mental health facility for a 48-hour psychiatric evaluation under Florida's Baker Act.



 

"She is fine. There is nothing wrong with her," the officer tells her partner in the video. "She’s been actually very pleasant." Her partner agrees, speculating that perhaps the deputies were called simply because the school didn't know how to deal with the situation, reports The Washington Post. Without her mother's consent, Nadia was moved through the system—from the school to the police to the mental institution—all because of a controversial Florida law.



 

The Baker's Act, allows law enforcement officers, school counselors, and medical personnel to involuntarily institutionalize an individual perceived as being a danger to themselves or others for 72 hours. 36,078 involuntary examinations were initiated under the Baker Act for individuals under the age of 18 in Florida between July 2017 and June 2018. When Nadia became a victim of the controversial act earlier this month, her mother was only informed about the incident when a third-party crisis intervention organization called her while the young girl was on her way to the facility.



 

The following 48-hours turned into a never-ending nightmare for Nadia and Falk as the child found herself in a mental hospital sedated and confused. The ordeal has left the girl extremely skittish around her doctors, her concerned mother revealed. "She used to trust our pediatrician, and now she doesn’t want to set foot in there," said the 31-year-old. Reganel J. Reeves, an attorney for the family, stated that the child is simply a special needs child who had "a temper tantrum at school." He now plans to file lawsuits to learn more about how the state executes the Baker Act and how policies at Duval County Public Schools unfold as he suspects the application might be unconstitutional, especially when it comes to children.



 

Breaking down in tears at a news conference on Thursday, Falk lamented that her daughter has been unable to communicate what happened to her because of her disability. "She can only tell you bits and pieces. 'Mommy, they locked the door. They wouldn't let me out. Mommy, they gave me a shot,'" she said. Meanwhile, Tracy Pierce, with Duval County Public Schools, told NBC News that the decision to have the child committed under the Baker Act was not made by the school district personnel or police.



 

"The officers in the video were not present during the events which motivated the school to call Child Guidance. The police officers were also not present when Child Guidance was intervening with the student. The student was calm when she left the school, but at that point, child Guidance had already made the decision to Baker Act based on their intervention with the student," said Pierce. She added that the school only calls for assistance from a counselor with Child Guidance Center when a student displays behavior deemed either a risk to themselves or others. Pierce also stated that several steps are followed to try and de-escalate a situation before a counselor is called and that the child's parents are notified immediately when the counselor decides the child should be committed under the Baker Act.



 

However, Reeves says parents should have a chance to intervene before the decision is made as a phone call to the parent or guardian might help calm a child. Nadia's family is now looking for answers as to what happened, what actions were taken, and who decided to send the girl to a mental health facility. "We want accountability," the attorney said.



 

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