Mom Upset After School Has Son Committed to Psych Ward

Mom says her son suffers from separation anxiety

Syndi Dorman has faced a lot, raising two kids while her Army husband spent time overseas. But what happened a few days ago was right up there with her worst nightmare.   

"I said, 'Can you do this?' and they're like, 'Yeah,'" said the stunned San Pedro mother. "I'm just like, 'What? Can I get a lawyer? How is this happening?'"

Dorman said what happened to her son could happen to any school-age child and that's why she's speaking out. On Monday, her 6-year-old son Jack was committed to a psychiatric ward against her wishes after he drew a violent drawing at school and wrote that he wanted to die.

"They said they were concerned about a picture he drew. I said he plays video games and it's a picture from a video game."

Dorman said her son suffers from separation anxiety and has seen a therapist in the past. On the day he drew the disturbing picture, he was upset that he couldn't stay home with his family.

"I explained to them what was happening, that my husband was being deployed to Iraq, that he was upset when he came to school today, that he wanted to be home."

School officials at Taper Avenue Elementary in San Pedro were so concerned, they called a Los Angeles County psychiatric mobile response team, which determined Jack needed to be committed to a 72-hour psychiatric hold at a local hospital.

"I'm saying, 'I will deal with it, that we have a therapist, we'll make sure he's seen today.' "They said it was out of my hands. They said they were in control and they could do this and had already called an ambulance."

Dorman said the ambulance ride was traumatizing for her son.

"I was trying to reassure him it would be OK and he asked if I'd come back for him, and I said of course I'm going to come back for you."

Los Angeles Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines released a statement, saying in part, "When any student indicates a desire to take his or her own life, the LAUSD is required to follow strict protocols to ensure the safety of the student ... The safety of LAUSD students is paramount. We did the right thing here."

Jack was released after 48 hours, but his mother says the experience will have lasting effects.

"My son doesn't want to go back to school. He's afraid they're going to take him away again."

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