Friday, October 22, 2010

News: AB 3632 Mandate Suspended; Mental Health Services in a State of Chaos

Governor’s Line Item Veto Suspends AB 3632 Mandate for Mental Health Services in California

On October 8, 2010, Governor Schwarzanegger signed the state’s budget for fiscal year 2010-2011, while using his line item veto to cut billions of dollars to state funded programs. Among the programs affected are mental health services provided to students with disabilities under what is known as the AB 3632 Mandate. The Governor used his veto to eliminate approximately $133 million in funds apportioned for the state to reimburse County Mental Health agencies for mandated services they have already funded. At the same time, the Governor suspended the AB 3632 mandate going forward.

AB 3632 was enacted in 1984 in order to assign County Mental Health departments the financial responsibility for funding mental health services required pursuant to students’ IEPs. Under AB 3632, County Mental Health departments also funded residential placements for students who were eligible under the category of “Emotionally Disturbed” and required residential placement in order to receive an appropriate special education program.

The Governor’s action has been called “unconscionable” by many, and leaves school districts, SELPAs, County Mental Health departments, providers, residential treatment facilities, and IEP teams in a complete and utter state of chaos. Parents and students are unfortunately likely to be immediately and negatively impacted.

Suspending AB 3632 services does not eliminate mental health services or residential placements, but instead returns the responsibility for these state mandated services to the local education agencies (school districts). However, as each County Mental Health department and each School District reacts to the chaos individually and decides what action to take, there will almost certainly be disruption in services for many students.

Please read more in depth information on this blog at:

Mental Health Services in State of Chaos in California: Part 1 - What Happened? (http://a2zeducationaladvocates.blogspot.com/2010/10/mental-health-services-in-state-of.html)

Mental Health Services in State of Chaos in California - Part 2: What Happens Next? (http://a2zeducationaladvocates.blogspot.com/2010/10/mental-health-services-in-state-of_22.html)

Already, litigation on this issue has begun. On October 21, 2010, in Los Angeles, a class action lawsuit was filed in federal court by Public Counsel, Disability Rights California, Mental Health Advocacy Services, and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, in order to "preserve lifeline services for more than 20,000 students." (You can find read the press release on Disability Rights California's website (http://www.disabilityrightsca.org/) as well as the complaint filed in federal court).

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