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6-year-old girl was committed to mental health facility without parent consent

By Minyvonne Burke and Sossy Dombourian and Anthony Cusumano, TODAY

A 6-year-old Florida girl was committed for two days to a mental health facility without her mother’s consent after allegedly throwing a temper tantrum at school, an attorney for the family said.

The child was allegedly given anti-psychotic medications at the center, also without the permission of her mother, Martina Falk.

The mother is now demanding answers from officials at Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville for their handling of the Feb. 4 incident.

Falk’s lawyer, Reganel Reeves, said a mental health counselor was called to the school because Nadia was reportedly having a tantrum and throwing chairs.

The counselor evaluated Nadia, who has ADHD and has been diagnosed with a mood disorder, and determined that she needed to be committed under the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly known as the Baker Act.

The Baker Act gives social workers in Florida the power to initiate involuntary holds on children as young as 2 without the need for parental permission.

According to Reeves, Falk was not called and informed about the incident until after Nadia had been committed to the facility.

Falk, breaking down in tears, said at a news conference Thursday that her daughter is not able to communicate what happened to her because of her disability.

“She can only tell you bits and pieces. ‘Mommy, they locked the door. They wouldn’t let me out. Mommy, they gave me a shot,'” Falk said.

Deputies with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office were called to the school to assist and take Nadia to the facility. Police body-camera footage shows the girl calmly walking out of the school.

“You’re not no bad person,” a deputy says, later adding that Nadia has been “acting very pleasant.”

A police incident report shows that staff at the school said Nadia was “destroying school property, attacking staff, out of control and running out of school.”

Tracy Pierce, with Duval County Public Schools, told NBC News that the decision to have Nadia committed under the Baker Act did not come from school district personnel or police.

A licensed mental health counselor with Child Guidance Center, a mental health service provider contracted by the district, made that decision after evaluating the girl.

“The officers in the video were not present during the events which motivated the school to call Child Guidance. The police officers were also not present when Child Guidance was intervening with the student,” Pierce said. “The student was calm when she left the school, but at that point, child Guidance had already made the decision to Baker Act based on their intervention with the student.”

According to Pierce, the school only calls for assistance from a counselor with Child Guidance Center when a student is displaying behavior deemed either a risk to themselves or others.

She said several steps are followed to try and de-escalate a situation before a counselor is called and the parent of the student is notified immediately when the counselor decides the child should be committed under the Baker Act.

Child Guidance Center did not immediately return a request for comment on Saturday.

This article originally appeared in TODAY via Yahoo News.

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