Report: More than 5,000 student Baker Acts in Florida, including 325 in Northeast Florida schools

First Coast News | First Coast News Staff | November 29, 2022

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A report ordered in the wake of the Parkland massacre shines a light on the use of the Baker Act on school campuses in Florida.

It shows a total of 5,077 incidents last year in which students were involuntarily committed under the mental health law known as the Baker Act. The law allows courts, law enforcement and some medical workers to involuntarily commit someone deemed a threat to themselves or others for up to 72 hours.

The new data were presented to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission, created by the Florida legislature after the 2018 massacre. It offers the first schools-specific breakdown of the frequency of Baker Acts. It does not take into account students who were committed outside of school.

Below is a breakdown of Baker Acts last year in First Coast school districts.

  • Baker 24
  • Bradford 10
  • Clay 42
  • Duval 137
  • Nassau 30
  • Putnam 19
  • St. Johns 46
  • Union 17

Based on student populations, the frequency of Northeast Florida commitments is three per 1,000.

The new data augment reporting by the Baker Act Reporting Center at the University of South Florida. Their most recent report, from school year 2019-2020, shows 128,193 Baker Acts statewide, nearly 18 percent of them involving children.

Duval County alone had 12,638. Most of those — 7,825 — were conducted by the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, and 11 percent involved children. At the two largest intake facilities, the Mental Health Resource Center and River Point Behavioral Health, children compose 36 percent of Baker Acts.

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