Report 2015-112 Recommendation 29 Responses

Report 2015-112: Student Mental Health Services: Some Students' Services Were Affected by a New State Law, and the State Needs to Analyze Student Outcomes and Track Service Costs (Release Date: January 2016)

Recommendation #29 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that the State provides special education and related services to all eligible students, Education should investigate the difference between the estimated number of school aged children statewide who have a severe emotional disturbance and the number receiving mental health services through an IEP and determine the reason for such a discrepancy. Education should then take any steps necessary to assist LEAs in identifying and providing services to children who are severely emotionally disturbed.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From November 2017

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation and no further updates will be provided.

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Will Not Implement


1-Year Agency Response

Although Education supports efforts to provide school-wide mental health services for students, including the work of the Student Mental Health Policy Workgroup and other such activities to address mental health needs of students not eligible for special education services, Education continues to not concur with this recommendation for the reasons previously stated.

  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Will Not Implement

Despite other initiatives that it may be supportive of, we stand by our position that Education should implement our recommendation so that it can ensure the State meets its obligations to all students who should receive services through an IEP.


6-Month Agency Response

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Education monitors LEA policies and procedures concerning the "Child Find" requirement to ensure that LEAs are fulfilling their responsibility to identify and serve students with disabilities that qualify for special education and related services. As Education previously explained, some students who may need mental health services do not qualify for special education services, and consequently would need to have their mental health needs addressed by other means.

However, legislation is being proposed to address the mental health needs of additional students who, by the nature of their disability, do not qualify for mental health services through the IEP process. Specifically, although in draft form, Senate Bill 1113* (SB 1113) would encourage interagency efforts among county mental health agencies and local educational agencies to increase the use of Medi-Cal funding to address students' mental health needs. These interagency efforts would model the program developed by the Desert Mountain SELPA and its service area, along with the mental health agencies.

*The specific legislative language to which this paragraph refers is being developed for inclusion in SB 1113.

  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Will Not Implement

We have acknowledged on multiple occasions that not all children who have a disability will qualify for mental health services through an IEP. However, we continue to believe that this is an insufficient explanation for why a gap of almost 600,000 children exists between the estimated number of children statewide who suffer from a severe emotional disturbance and those who were provided mental health services through an IEP in the school years we audited. Therefore, to ensure the State meets its obligations to all students who should receive services through an IEP, we stand by our position that Education should implement our recommendation despite other efforts to provide services to students who do not qualify for an IEP.


60-Day Agency Response

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Education monitors LEA policies and procedures concerning the "Child Find" requirement to ensure that LEAs are fulfilling their responsibility to identify and serve students with disabilities that qualify for special education and related services.

Nonetheless, Education is researching options for addressing the foreseen issues raised in complying with the auditor's recommendation. Furthermore, Education is working with Senator Beall's office to draft proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1113* (SB 1113), encouraging interagency efforts among county mental health agencies and local educational agencies to increase the use of Medi-Cal funding to address students' mental health needs. These interagency efforts will be modeled on the program developed by the Desert Mountain SELPA and its service area, along with the mental health agencies.

Despite the auditor's questioning of the data provided in Education's prior response concerning Desert Mountain SELPA's services, it is evident that Desert Mountain SELPA provides a model for addressing the mental health needs for all students, rather than only the subgroup of students in need of mental health services that qualify for special education. Desert Mountain SELPA is widely considered as having the broadest base of mental health services for all students in its service area, and strives to address the mental health needs of all students, regardless of whether they qualify for special education services. The Desert Mountain SELPA program was noted as a model for the provision of mental health services by both panelists and public commenters at the Audit Hearing. Senator Beall's legislation will support replication of that model in other parts of the state, thereby addressing the mental health needs of additional students who, by the nature of their disability, do not qualify for mental health services through the IEP process.

  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Will Not Implement

We acknowledge in our audit report that not all children who have a disability will qualify for mental health services through an IEP. However, we continue to believe that this is an insufficient explanation for why a gap of almost 600,000 children exists between the estimated number of children statewide who suffer from a severe emotional disturbance and those who were provided mental health services through an IEP in the school years we audited. Therefore, to ensure the State meets its obligations to all students who should receive services through an IEP, we stand by our position that Education should implement our recommendation despite other efforts to provide services to students who do not qualify for an IEP.


All Recommendations in 2015-112

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.


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