In 2021, the passage of the School Safety Bill, amended Florida law to require parental/guardian notification prior to the initiation of a Baker Act on a minor child. The intention behind these revisions was to reduce the number of inappropriate Baker Acts on children by giving parents a chance to help their child as is their right.
F.S. 381.0056 (School Health Services Program) now requires that:
- A reasonable attempt is made to notify a student’s parent, guardian, or caregiver before the student is removed from school, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity to be taken to a receiving facility for an involuntary examination.
- “A reasonable attempt to notify” means the exercise of reasonable diligence and care by the principal or the principal’s designee to make contact with the student’s parent, guardian, or other known emergency contact whom the student’s parent or guardian. The methods of communication should include, but are not limited to:
- telephone calls
- text messages
The above changes to the law align with the criteria that must be met in order to initiate a Baker Act on anyone of any age.
F.S. 394.463 (Involuntary Examination) gives the criteria for a Baker Act and all points of the criteria must be met – if these criteria are not met and a person or child is Baker Acted it is a violation of their rights and the law.
One criteria point that is often overlooked is that a Baker Act should not be initiated if the harm that is perceived “may be avoided through the help of willing family members or friends or the provision of other services”.
For more information on your rights as a parent, or to download a free copy of the Florida Parental Rights Guide – CLICK HERE.
CCHR Offers Complimentary Online Seminars for Parents, Attorneys, Law Enforcement & Mental Health Professionals – Call 800-782-2878 (seminars may count as continuing education)