Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), children with disabilities are entitled to a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) with the assistance of related services. One of these related services are mental health services. A child, who qualifies for special education, has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and who requires mental health services may receive services at no cost.
Prior to 1984, California schools were responsible for providing these mental health services for students with an IEP who needed them. In 1984, the California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown authored AB 3632 requiring counties, not School Districts, to provide these mental health services to the students that qualified. This was because there were major concerns that students with mental health needs were not receiving proper mental health services as required by IDEA. After 27 years of California School Districts working jointly with County Mental Health to provide these mental health services, last week all of that changed!!
According to Disability Rights California:
“Last week, California passed a law that returns legal responsibility to school districts for providing school related mental health services to special education students. This does not change your children’s right to receive mental health services that they need to benefit from education.”
Read the Disability Rights California Press Release on School districts, not counties, now responsible for school-related mental health services for special education students.
Important Points to Remember
- Mental Health Services are still mandated under IDEA and are not ending;
- Most School Districts will contract with County Mental Health or similar agencies to provide these services;
- Changes to services can only take place in an IEP meeting;
- Parents have the right to disagree with any changes proposed by the School District in an IEP meeting; and
- Current services are subject to a Stay Put if the School District tries to change, reduce, or end mental health services without the Parent’s consent.
What Happens if there is a Disagreement?