JACKSONVILLE, FL—On February 4, Nadia King, a 6-year-old with special needs, was escorted out of her school by police to be taken to a mental health facility involuntarily under the Baker Act.
King was in a class for special needs children at Love Grove Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida when she became—what police reports would claim to be—“out of control” causing school officials to reach out for help.
The school contacted a third-party service for assistance and clinical social worker Romulo J. Mella came to examine the child. Mella deemed King a threat to herself and others before contacting authorities to retrieve her. King’s mother, Martina Falk, was later informed about her daughter being taken to a mental health facility.
The San Francisco News reached out to Mella for comment, but he has not returned any calls.
The Baker Act, known as Florida’s Mental Health Act of 1971, allows a person to be involuntarily committed to examination for up to 72 hours. A judge, law enforcement official, or mental health professional can make the call if there’s evidence of mental illness, self-neglect or potential harm to oneself or others.
The University of South Florida published a report on the Baker Act in 2019 revealing an increase in statewide involuntary examinations with an almost 19 percent increase for children from 2014 to 2018.
Reganel Reeves, Falk’s attorney, indicated that during her time in the facility, King was isolated and secluded. When she cried for her mother, Nadia was allegedly injected with Thorazine, an anti-psychotic, which rendered the child incoherent after her mother visited. Falk’s visited. Reeves is awaiting official reports of the child’s examination.
King has been diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, and a mood disorder. It’s unclear if Mella at any point had access to King’s file divulging her special needs.
King is not the only child where this has transpired to. According to Reeves, children can be “Baker Acted” as early as 2 years-old. Reeves indicated it is not uncommon in public schools in Florida, but he believes King’s “special needs and her inability to speak didn’t help the situation” and “may have played a factor.”