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Case Name D.P. v. School Board of Palm Beach County MH-FL-0003
Docket / Court 9:21-cv-81099 ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Disability Rights-Pub. Accom.
Mental Health (Facility)
Attorney Organization Legal Services/Legal Aid
National Center for Youth Law
Southern Poverty Law Center
Case Summary
This is a case about the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC), acting under the Baker Act, a Florida state law that authorized SDPBC to remove hundreds of children deemed to be a threat and took them to psychiatric facilities for involuntary psychiatric examinations each year. On June 22, 20 ... read more >
This is a case about the School District of Palm Beach County (SDPBC), acting under the Baker Act, a Florida state law that authorized SDPBC to remove hundreds of children deemed to be a threat and took them to psychiatric facilities for involuntary psychiatric examinations each year. On June 22, 2021, four students of color and one white student with disabilities who qualified for Exceptional Student Education (ESE) and were enrolled in the School District of Palm Beach County filed this putative class-action lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. The putative plaintiff class consisted of all those who attended school in SDPBC who were subjected to involuntary psychiatric examination or at risk of involuntary examination. The plaintiffs sued SPDBC and the Palm Beach County School District Police Department under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and § 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. Represented by Disability Rights Florida, Southern Poverty Law Center, Legal Aid Society of Palm Beach County, and National Center for Youth Law, the plaintiffs sought declarative and injunctive relief, actual and punitive damages, and attorneys’ fees.

The plaintiffs claimed that SPDBC used the Baker Act to initiate at least 1,216 involuntary examinations of its students in the 2016-2020 school years, including 252 times on elementary school students. SDPBC seized Black children for involuntary examination at twice the rate of white children, a disparity that worsened for young children: 40 of 59 children under age eight examined under the Act in that period were Black. The plaintiffs further alleged that the unnecessary use of involuntary examination through the Baker Act put children and their families at significant risk of long-term and serious psychological harm. As a result of being subjected to involuntary examination under the Baker Act, children may have experienced new or exacerbated post-traumatic stress, general anxiety, separation anxiety, depression, humiliation, and emotional withdrawal. The plaintiffs also claimed that the defendants violated their Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment protection against unreasonable seizure and use of excessive force. This case was assigned to Judge Aileen M. Cannon.

On July 26, 2021, the plaintiffs filed an amended complaint that clarified, for some counts, which plaintiffs brought the claim.

As of October 22, 2021, the case is pending discovery proceedings.

Calvin Kim - 10/22/2021


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Unreasonable search and seizure
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Jurisdiction-wide
Law-enforcement
Disability
Mental impairment
Discrimination-basis
Disability (inc. reasonable accommodations)
Race discrimination
General
Confinement/isolation
Education
Juveniles
Medical/Mental Health
Intellectual/Developmental Disability
Mental Disability
Autism
Mental Illness, Unspecified
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Race
Black
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 12111 et seq.
Section 504 (Rehabilitation Act), 29 U.S.C. § 701
Defendant(s) School District of Palm Beach County
School District of Palm Beach County Police Department
Plaintiff Description Students who attended school in the School District of Palm Beach County who were subjected to involuntary examination or were at risk of involuntary examination.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations Legal Services/Legal Aid
National Center for Youth Law
Southern Poverty Law Center
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status outcome Pending
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party None Yet / None
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief None yet
Source of Relief None yet
Filed 06/22/2021
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Court Docket(s)
S.D. Fla.
10/22/2021
9:21-cv-81099
MH-FL-0003-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
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Plaintiff's Lawyers Boyd, Samuel T.S. (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Christiansen, Nicholas Clinton (Tennessee) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Cintron-Siegel, Ann Marie (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
De Leon, Evian Lynn White (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Duncan, Melissa Marie (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Eidsath, Hannah Benton (California) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Hults, Rachel V (California) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Jackson, Bacardi (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Lewis, Melissa (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Paris, Molly Jean (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Pasch, Shahar Vinayi (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Strout, Jean (California) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Toll, Joshua C. (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Bell, Jon Erik (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Carmona, Lisa A. (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Garabedian, Charles Mark Jr. (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Pincus, Laura Esterman (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000
Stettin, Eric Lawrence (Florida) show/hide docs
MH-FL-0003-9000

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