What do these bills do?
- These bills require that a public school principal or designee must attempt notification to a student’s parent before the student is transported to a receiving facility for an involuntary examination (Baker Act). The notification applies to a student’s removal from school grounds, school transportation, or a school-sponsored activity
- These bills do not change the allowable delay in parental notification when suspected child abuse has been reported.
- These bills require that the school health services plan provide for notification to a parent before the student is removed for an involuntary examination.
NASW-FL Supports the Bills If Amended
Each day in Florida, about 100 kids are involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluations under the state's Baker Act. These bills should be amended to include the option for schools to call in clinical social workers to assess students for involuntary examination.
Both PCS HB 383 and SB 590 require the contacting of a mobile response team before calling a law enforcement officer. In addition, SB 590 it says there must be a Memo of Understanding with local mobile crisis response service where school or law enforcement officials must contact a local mobile crisis response service before initiating an involuntary examination. This language should be amended to say "or school employed mental health personnel" (even licensed) as some districts have licensed school personnel who could provide the same assessment and (1) in rural areas or large counties would respond faster, (2) may know the child or school better.
If districts are required to use the services of the Mobile Crisis Response Team (MCRT) it would take longer to get help to students in crisis. Some districts have Licensed Clinical Social Workers and Licensed Mental Health Counselors at schools who can immediately assess and respond to students. Often MCRT takes a long time to get to a school. They have a small staff, many of whom are not licensed. Schools need to be able to continue to use the current processes to support students at risk of harm to themselves so that there is no delay with needed services and supports.
Note: On March 9, 2021, the Senate Early Learning & Elementary Education Subcommittee adopted a proposed committee substitute (PCS) for this bill, removing critical mental health / crisis training and reporting requirements. HB 383 was amended in committee as PCS HB 383 and removed the training requirements (for school safety officers), data requirements, and any mention of school social work services. This language should be added back to the bill.