IEP Student Mental Health Services Funding Shifts to School District—$250,000 per Month
• Includes Those in Residential Facilities and Getting Outpatient Care
BY JULIE WALLACH
Last October, outgoing Governor Schwarzenegger blue-penciled a mandate and $133 million in funding for AB 3632, legislation that provides services to students with Individual Education Programs who also receive mental health services.
According to a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District report, AB 3632 funding includes, "case management and payment of residential and therapeutic costs of students in residential treatment, outpatient mental health services to students and their families, and attendance at IEP meetings."
In order to continue services after Schwarzenegger's line item veto, in Nov. 2010, the California Department of Education approved the release of $76 million in funds. Those funds were expended by mid-January.
At present, SMMUSD has 15 students at residential treatment centers and 59 students receiving outpatient IEP-based mental health services that require funding amounting to $250,000 per month.
As "payers of the last resort for educational services," the law requires that IEP services continue without interruption. In order to remedy this, many districts are now contracting with the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health.
According to Sara Woolverton, director of special education for the district, "The DMH is asking SMMUSD to sign a memorandum of understanding agreeing to pay them to provide services from February-June 2011."
However, Woolverton indicated that the DMH has "not been able to provide accurate information about the students they're wanting payment for" and added that "their list of those who currently receive services includes students who had already graduated years ago and siblings of students with IEPs who do not have their own IEPs."
"Of the 127 students on the list, only 46 were accurate," Woolverton said.
Governor Brown is now asking the legislature to allow a vote to potentially restore funding for the 2011-2012 school year.
Three lawsuits are pending against former Governor Schwarzenegger.