JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — On Thursday, 6-year-old Nadia Falk stood calmly next to her mother and grandmother, while fidgeting with a toy.
But on Tuesday, her mother said the child had to be handcuffed and taken to a mental health facility. Nadia goes to Love Grove Elementary School.
On Friday, Duval County Public Schools told Action News Jax at no time did the principal see the child placed in handcuffs.
“Once staff and the mental health therapist were able to deescalate the behavior, the child was escorted out of the school calmly holding hands with principal and police officer to police officer’s vehicle,” DCPS said in a statement.
The Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office also said the child was never placed in handcuffs. JSO said the school wrote the Baker Act order and JSO said it acted as a transport service.
“Honestly, I just want to let the school systems know that this is not OK. If you have a child with any type of disability, they deserve an education. They don’t deserve to be hauled away like an animal,” said Nadia’s mother, Martina Falk.
Nadia’s mother didn’t see her daughter until Thursday afternoon when she was allowed to pick her up from River Point Behavioral Health on Beach Boulevard.
“That’s not a place for children. It’s a place for no one,” Falk said.
Falk said she didn’t know the Baker Act could be used on her daughter, much less a child who has been diagnosed with ADHD, is developmentally delayed, and has a mood disorder.
Falk says her daughter’s psychiatrist believes she may even be on the spectrum of Asperger’s syndrome.
“I want this place to be investigated. I want Love Grove to be investigated,” Falk said.
Critics say the Baker Act is being overused, leaving children traumatized and parents afraid to send their kids back to school.
Representative Jennifer Webb of Gulfport is sponsoring a bill that would require principals and other staff to make sure de-escalation tactics have been used before students are moved.
“They’re just taking the kid, handcuffing them, putting them in the back of a cruiser and taking them to the emergency room or Baker Act receiving center, so we want to slow that down,” Falk said.
Falk said she doesn’t plan to let her daughter return to the school, because she is still concerned for the safety of her daughter and other children.
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