A Florida mother is “angered” and “heartbroken” and threatening legal action after her 6-year-old daughter was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility after throwing a tantrum.
On Feb. 4, staff members at Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida, called the police on Nadia Falk because she was “destroying school property, attacking staff, out of control and running out of school,” according to a police report obtained by local station WCVB.
A clinical social worker recommended she be committed under the Baker Act, which allows a mental health institution to hold a person for up to 72 hours for a mental health evaluation. The law is typically used for people who are suspected to be mentally ill, refuse treatment or are considered a danger to themselves or other people.
“I was alerted of an incident after she was Baker Acted,” Martina Falk, Nadia’s mother, told ABC’s “Good Morning America.” Nadia has been diagnosed with ADHD and a mood disorder and is currently undergoing testing for autism.
The girl’s mom said school officials didn’t contact her before “baker acting,” her child and committing her to a mental facility. The mother also alleges her daughter was injected with an anti-psychotic drug at the facility, where she remained for two days.
An attorney for Falk, Reganel Reeves of the Cochran Firm, claims the school was well aware of Nadia’s condition and jumped the gun by dialing police.
“They’re using this [Baker Act] as a way to get rid of children who just have behavioral problems,” Reeves told Atlanta Black Star, arguing the policy has been “overly applied” to kids who act out.
“They basically punished [Nadia] for the condition they’re well aware of,” he added. “And I believe it was because they were frustrated … in general, and decided to escalate it. But they had no business calling the cops on a 6-year-old child.”
When Falk spoke to a school resource officer about the incident, she was told the school couldn’t do anything to control Nadia.
“Your daughter is completely out of control, and we weren’t able to de-escalate the situation,” the officer told her.
However, dashcam video shows the girl behaving calmly as she’s escorted from school by police. At one point, she asks officers if she’s going to jail and she requests a snack.
“No, you’re not going to jail,” one of them replies, adding, “You’re not no bad person, you’re not going to jail.”
The officer seemed skeptical of the school’s reason for
“She’s been actually very pleasant,” she noted.
“I think it’s more of them not wanting to deal with
it,” said another officer.
The school district told WCVB the officers were not present during the altercation.
“It was the mental health counselor from Child Guidance — not the police officer or school personnel, who made the Baker Act decision,” the district said in a statement. “The student was calm when she left the school, but at that point, Child Guidance had already made the decision to Baker Act [her] based on their intervention with the student.”
Martina Falk expressed her upset over the incident, considering she had specifically selected Love Grove for her child because of its ability to handle children with special needs.
Since the incident, according to the family’s attorney, Nadia hasn’t returned to school and is exhibiting more fearful, anxious behavior. The family is now calling for a change to the law because “we don’t want to see children this young being Baker acted,” said Reeves.
“We want there to be a change in the policies,” he told ABS. “So, special protections for children; kids with special needs have extra protections under the Constitution. So we want to see changes in the (state) law that mainly include [say] if a child 10 or less should only be Baker Acted under extreme circumstances, and those circumstances need to be detailed.”
The Falk family said it plans to sue and is seeking compensation for false imprisonment, emotional distress and violation of Nadia’s civil rights in the incident.
Watch more in the video below.
Tanasia Kenney contributed to this article.