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6yo Girl Taken From School by Police Without Parents’ Consent, Held in Facility for 48 Hours for Tantrum

A Jacksonville, Fl mother is upset with officials and staff from the Love Grove Elementary School after her 6-year-old daughter was taken from the school and held at a mental health center for 2 days without her consent. 

Marina Falk received a phone call from a mental health counselor at the school earlier this month telling her that police had taken her daughter, Nadia because the girl “was out of control and throwing a tantrum.”

“The school called me after the decision to Baker Act was made,” Ms. Falk said on Monday, referring to a Florida law that allows the involuntary commitment — for up to 72 hours — of people who are judged by certain authorities to be an imminent danger to themselves or others.

Ms. Falk says when she called the police to see where Nadia was, they told her there was nothing they could do. According to Ms. Falk, the officer told her: “‘There’s nothing else we could do. Your daughter is completely out of control, and we were not able to de-escalate the situation.’”

A spokesman for the Duval County Public Schools said it wasn’t the school that decided to have the girl admitted to the mental health center, it was Child Guidance.

According to the incident report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the 6-year-old girl “was destroying school property, attacking staff, out of control and running out of school.”

Nadia was taken to River Point Behavioral Health, a center that treats patients of all ages for emotional, developmental, substance abuse and behavioral health issues.

“When a student’s behavior presents a risk of self-harm or harm to others, the school district’s procedure is to call Child Guidance, our crisis-response provider,” Mr. Pierce said in a statement on Monday. “Our staff followed that procedure.”

“The parent was notified immediately” after the decision was made to transport Nadia, who “calmly walked to the police car” with the school principal, she added.

Footage from the body camera of the police officer who escorted the child out of the school shows Nadia calmly chatting with the officer. In the video, the officer can be heard saying that the girl is “pleasant” and “cooperative.”

“She is fine,” the deputy says in the video. “There is nothing wrong with her.”

The school district said that the officers in the video were not present “during the events which motivated the school to call Child Guidance” or when the health counselor “was intervening with the student.”

Ms. Falk says she arrived at the River Point Behavioral Health, around 11:30 a.m., and was told that her daughter was being held for 48 hours. She said she wasn’t permitted to see Nadia until 6:30 that night. When she did see her, she said her daughter was sedated in a secluded room.

“I was crying, I was hysterical, I was angry,” Ms. Falk, 31, recalled, adding that she was able to bring her daughter home around noon on Feb. 6. “I don’t think she should have been Baker Acted. Why did they feel this was necessary?”

Ms. Falk said that Nadia has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as a disability called global developmental delay. She said she had enrolled Nadia at Love Grove Elementary because of its services for children with special needs.

Reganel J. Reeves, a lawyer for Ms. Falk, said the family planned to hold the school district accountable for the emotional stress the girl and her mother had endured.

“We put them on notice and intend to take legal action,” Mr. Reeves said on Monday.

In the meantime, Ms. Falk said that Nadia was now enrolled at another school.

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