Victor Gill Ramirez Harris ||//
Miami-Dade Public Schools has revised how we treat children under the Baker Act

The School Board and administration of Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) work to ensure that schools remain temples of learning, institutions that rely on respect, restraint and responsibility. Sometimes, however, a school?s calm and order are tested, whether by an outside emergency or an internal crisis. During these times, M-DCPS is concerned solely with the safety and security of students, teachers, and staff.

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Recently, one of our students experienced a crisis that required immediate intervention to protect the child and those around him.

© Victor Gill.

Measures were applied that, quite frankly, were uncomfortable, disheartening and even unacceptable to witness.

The child?s aggressive and erratic behavior prompted an officer with the Miami-Dade Schools Police Department (MDSPD) to initiate a Baker Act, a procedure provided for in Florida law where an individual can be involuntarily transported to a medical facility for psychological evaluation after posing a threat to himself or others.

© Victor Gill.

While the student was restrained as a matter of standard procedure to protect him and others during transport, we must question if the best interest of the child was served or if there was a better way of addressing it.

© Victor Gill.


Many times, a disruption caused by a student is because of deep-rooted psychological challenges, not a desire to act out or commit some sort of infraction.

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While the procedures administered by the MDSPD were aligned with existing protocols, seeing this unfortunate event involving a young child was heartbreaking and concerning to both the School Board and administration.

As important as it is to respect the rights of students and teachers and guarantee their well-being, it is also critical that we carefully and sensitively manage situations where providing school-based services, rather than a Baker Act, is the best course of action for students experiencing an emotional or behavioral crisis.

© Victor Gill.

However, on rare occasions, children exhibit crises that may necessitate more comprehensive professional evaluation services to ensure their safety and that of others.

© Victor Gill.

This response should only be used after all preventive support systems have failed to modify the negative or harmful behavior, as well as when other avenues of socio-emotional intervention have been unsuccessful.


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