When Your Child Gets Baker Acted
Parents in Florida send their kids to school to get an education with the reasonable expectation that their child will be safe and treated with respect and compassion. Often this expectation is reinforced with appropriate actions and care from the school, but there is growing concern that misbehavior or a misunderstanding between students and school staff might lead to a child inappropriately being “Baker Acted.” What does being Baker Acted mean?
What is the Baker Act?
Known as the Baker Act, the Florida Mental Health Act was created with the intention to aid people with mental illness in getting a psychiatric exam when they won’t or can’t get one themselves. In essence, the act states that a person may be removed from any program or residential placement by a law enforcement officer and delivered to a facility for involuntary examination. The concern was that individuals needing treatment for mental illness might be neglected and/or unable to care for themselves. Additionally, it was intended to address a potential danger of harm to themselves.
Potential Concerns When Your Child is Baker Acted
The concern revolves around the inappropriate use or overuse of invoking the Baker Act in schools for children who are either simply misbehaving or have established disabilities that require other types of treatment or intervention. There is little specification in the statute differentiating between a child or an adult, thereby possibly side-stepping parental rights or consent when the individual in question is a misbehaving child. There is also little differentiation regarding what staff or personnel are qualified to determine the eligibility for invoking the Baker Act and in what circumstances.
In Florida, many precincts and counties require that police officers use handcuffs when taking an individual into their custody. Parents may be concerned about school staff using the Baker Act as a disciplinary measure without considering the trauma inflicted on their child. Tison Law Group is committed to supporting the goal that those who need mental health intervention receive the help they need. At the same time, they understand the potential for abuse of the Baker Act in unwarranted circumstances. If you have concerns about how the Baker Act is being applied to your child, call Tison Law Group for a consultation.