BUDGET SHIFTS RESPONSIBILITY FOR MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES TO SCHOOL DISTRICTS

July 2011
Number 14

Assembly Bill 3632 (“AB 3632”), which provided mental health services for special education students through county mental health agencies, is now inactive and will soon be repealed. Instead, the responsibility for providing mental health services to special education students will be shifted to school districts, apparently permanently.

Mental health services have previously been provided by county mental health agencies, but in October 2010, then-Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed all state funding for AB 3632 services. The AB 3632 mandate was declared suspended in subsequent litigation in spring 2011. The California State Budget for 2011-2012 and its accompanying trailer bills officially abolish AB 3632 and shift the responsibility for providing mental health services, including out-of-home residential services, from county mental health departments and county welfare departments to school districts. The new budget apportions $221.8 million for school districts to implement mental health services, and provides a one-time apportionment of $98.6 million to county mental health agencies from Proposition 63 funds. The budget also provides increased funding for the Office of Administrative Hearings in anticipation of increased litigation resulting from these changes.

A trailer bill to the budget specifically makes AB 3632 inoperative as of July 1, 2011, and repeals AB 3632 effective January 1, 2012. Because AB 3632 is no longer effective, it appears that mental health obligations imposed upon school districts are now defined by the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, which includes mental health as a related service. Thus, school districts are now responsible for providing mental health services to special education students. Additionally, the means by which districts fulfill those obligations (e.g., hiring employees or using contractors) may have labor and employment implications.

If you have any questions regarding implementation of the permanent transfer of mental health services for special education students from county mental health agencies to school districts, please do not hesitate to contact one of our eight offices located statewide or consult our website.

Written By:

Daniel Osher

Shareholder and Special Education Practice Group Co-Chair

Monterey Office

dosher@lozanosmith.com

© 2011 Lozano Smith

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