Parents, teachers wary of new bill on drugs in school
A bill passed by the Legislature has some worried more children will end up in mental health crisis units because they won’t get the help they need early on.
But supporters of the bill dealing with psychotropic drugs and the role schools can play in whether they are prescribed to children say something needed to be done to stop overmedication of children.
The legislation sponsored by Rep. Gustavo Barreiro, R-Miami, now goes to Gov. Jeb Bush. Opponents are hoping Bush will veto the bill. They fear teachers will be dissuaded from bringing mental health issues forward to parents.
“You’re going to wind up with more Baker Acts because nobody is going to talk to parents and get the preventative measures in place,” said Dr. Elias Sarkis, a past president of the Florida Psychiatric Society and a child psychiatrist in Gainesville. The Baker Act is a state law that allows people, including children, to be involuntarily confined to mental health facilities temporarily if they are deemed dangerous to themselves or others.
The Florida Association of School Psychologists is hoping a different bill, which contains similar provisions dealing with schools but is primarily directed at restricting the state Department of Children & Families’ power to give psychotropic drugs to foster children, will be approved by the governor instead. The bill gives school personnel more freedom to discuss observations with parents, said Mary Alice Myers, past president and a Volusia school psychologist. Barreiro, who hopes both bills become law, said too many children are being placed on drugs such as Ritalin.
Under his bill, when school officials suspect a mental health issue and want to refer a student for an evaluation, they must tell parents that a child’s behavior could have a physical cause and suggest consulting a medical doctor. Also, school officials must tell parents the evaluation may become a part of a child’s school record.
, . (2005). Parents, teachers wary of new bill on drugs in school. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2005/05/16/parents-teachers-wary-of-new-bill-on-drugs-in-school/