JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Family members said they'd complained for months about children found living in filthy Jacksonville home.
The family said the children, a 7-year-old girl and 8-year-old boy, hadn't gone to school since before Easter.
“Nothing ever happened. Luckily the kids did not get hurt during all the phone calling and complaining we did,” said Evelyn Kirkland, who is now looking after the children.
Kirkland said she and others reached out to the Florida Department of Children and Families, but nothing happened until the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office was called for a domestic issue between James Kirkland, 44, and Angela Carroll, 43. The two are now charged with child neglect.
JSO said the pair were arrested after children were found living in a Jacksonville home without food or running water and had not been to school in some time. Deputies also found more than 500 pornographic magazines in the home.
Clark is the CEO of Daniel Kids Memorial Foundation, which is the oldest child-serving agency in Florida. He said even if complaints were made, removal isn’t the first step.
“The more that you can keep families and children together, and help families learn or those parents learn or that parent learn how to care for the child the better it’s going to be for that child,” Clark said.
Action News Jax got a copy of a court document that shows both Kirkland and Carroll have a history with DCF, including Carroll previously losing the rights to some of her other children. We reached out to DCF about its history with the family.
We received a statement that reads in part, “While the department is familiar with this family and we are taking steps to make sure the children are safe, details of child protective investigations are confidential.”
Clark said the best way to get help is to call the DCF hotline. But along with DCF, family members of the children say their school should have gotten involved sooner, too.
“That’s a big warning sign and certainly needs to usually notify JSO and the parent,” Clark said. “The school has protocol they have to follow and that’s a big warning sign.”
Action News Jax reached out to Duval County Public Schools and received a statement that reads in part:
“Without getting into the specifics of the case, attendance policies and procedures as outlined in the Duval County School Board manual were followed.
"The policy: If a student has at least five unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a calendar month or 10 unexcused absences, or absences for which the reasons are unknown, within a 90-calendar day period, the student’s primary teacher shall report the student’s attendance to the principal. The principal shall, unless there is clear evidence that the absences are not a pattern of non-attendance, refer the case to the school level Attendance Intervention Team (AIT). The AIT will schedule a meeting with the parents or legal guardian and a representative of the district attendance office. If appropriate, a contract will be developed and signed by the participating parties. If the contract is violated, the case may be referred to the State Attorney’s office."
Family members told Action News Jax the children returned to school on Monday. However, they're not sure yet if they will be able to remain on track with their grade level.
James Kirkland and Angela Carroll are expected to be in court in June.
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