Report 2015-112 All Recommendation 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 for Legislative Action

The Legislature should amend state law to require Education to report annually, beginning March 2017, regarding the outcomes for students receiving mental health services in the six key areas we identified. The report to the Legislature should include outcome data for the most recently completed school year and should compare the outcomes for students receiving mental health services with the outcomes for other special education students. Subsequent reports should also identify any trends in outcome data from one year to the next. Education should also provide comments in the report on the trends that it identifies and any actions it plans to take to improve the outcomes for students who receive mental health services.

Description of Legislative Action

Senate Bill 884 (Chapter 835, Statutes of 2016), in part, requires the State Department of Education to submit a report relating to the provision of mental health services to pupils through an Individualized Education Plan to the appropriate legislative fiscal and policy committees by June 30, 2017.

  • Legislative Action Current As-of: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Recommendation #2 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To ensure that it provides mental health services through an IEP to all students who require such services, Long Beach should analyze the number of students to whom it provides these services and determine whether the annual decline can be attributed to its early intervention program. If the decline cannot be attributed to the early intervention program, Long Beach should reassess its process for determining whether students require mental health services through an IEP and make any necessary improvements to that process.

Agency Response*

We have thoroughly analyzed our data on mental health services provided over a period of 10 years. While we have seen a decline in the number of students that are referred for mental health services through the IEP process, we maintain a constant rate of service for all students who are provided mental health supports through an IEP. Prior to the abolishment of AB 3632, we served an average of 885 students with mental health services. In the years immediately following the abolishment of AB 3632, we saw a decline in referrals, but have continued to serve an average of 941 students, which reflects an increase. We have continued to refine our referral process for mental health services and we are on track to receive more referrals this year (2016-2017), than we have in each of the last four years. This process has caused us to make some important refinements and to feel confident that we are addressing the mental health needs of students in a manner that has been viewed in the data over the past decade.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

The analysis performed by Long Beach provides some assurance that the fluctuation we noted in our report appears to be the result of a temporary increase in the number of students who were provided mental health services during the transition to AB 114. Long Beach also provided assurance that its process was appropriate for identifying students who may require mental health services through an IEP.


Agency Response*

Please see the attached document with data that explains an increase in school based mental health/early intervention services as well as an increase in the number of students that we are providing mental health services for on an IEP.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: August 2016
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Although it initially indicated that its early intervention program may have played a role to the decline we showed in Figure 3 on page 22 of our report, Long Beach believes another factor may have played a more significant role. Long Beach provided several data to demonstrate that role, including the number of educationally related mental health services assessments it completed and the number of students who were provided mental health services through an IEP. Long Beach used this data from the past five school years to analyze the decline we noted in our report.

The data Long Beach provided show an increase in assessments since the 2013-14 school year, which suggests that Long Beach was delayed in assuming the responsibility to perform these assessment after AB 114. Also, the number of students who were provided mental health services through an IEP has increased since the 2014-15 school year, which suggests that the decline we noted was only temporary and that the number of students receiving these services may be rebounding. However, these patterns may only be temporary. Long Beach should continue to monitor the number of assessments it performs and the number of students whom it provides mental health services through an IEP to more fully demonstrate that the decline we noted was temporary.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

The District is awaiting further clarification from CDE regarding how to monitor outcomes. Recent legislation has been proposed by the legislature that would effect this process.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #3 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that all LEAs comply with federal special education requirements, Education should require them to include directly in a student's IEP document reasons for any changes to student placement or services.

Agency Response*

As stated in prior updates, Education continues to not concur with this recommendation, as it would impose a state requirement not contained in federal law. However, through the passage of SB 884, the California Legislature took action to address concerns about public access to information on pupil and parent rights. Specifically, the bill added Section 56415 to the California Education Code, which required Education to include a link to contact information to the state's Family Empowerment Centers on the existing Procedural Safeguards Web page. Education has complied with this requirement by adding the link (http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/pseng.asp).

Education considers this recommendation closed and no further updates will be provided.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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


Agency Response*

Through the passage of SB 884, the California Legislature took action to address concerns about public access to information on pupil and parent rights. Specifically, the bill added Section 56415 to the California Education Code, which required Education to include a link to contact information to the state's Family Empowerment Centers on the existing Procedural Safeguards Web page. Education has added that link. The Procedural Safeguards Web page (English version) is here: http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/qa/pseng.asp.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: No Action Taken

Education asserts that it has complied with a new requirement in state law related to procedural safeguards. However, it does not mention in its response any activity related to our recommendation to require LEAs to document the reasons for service or placement changes in a student's IEP document.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation as it would impose a state requirement not contained in federal law. However, changes in current state law could impose additional obligations on LEAs that may create new documentation requirements.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

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

As we specified in our comment on Education's 60-day response, we directed this recommendation to Education, not the Legislature. Our recommendation, if implemented, would result in additional direction from Education to LEAs about how they should meet an existing federal requirement. We continue to believe that by setting clear direction about how LEAs should meet existing federal requirements, Education would strengthen its ability to oversee special education in California.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation as it would impose a state requirement not contained in federal law. However, changes in current state law could impose additional obligations on LEAs that may create new documentation requirements. For example, Senator Beall's office has sought Education's input and assistance in drafting legislation, Senate Bill 884* (SB 884), that would require: 1) a copy of each "prior written notice," documenting the reasons for changes to placement or services to be maintained in the pupil's records; 2) a copy of pupil and parent rights, under the IDEA, to be included in annual notification information provided to all parents; and 3) parents be provided contact information for all family empowerment centers and parent training and information centers that are in the special education local plan area of which the student's LEA is a member.

*The specific legislative language noted in this response can be found in SB 884, which is pending approval and subject to revision.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

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

We directed this recommendation to Education, not the Legislature. Our recommendation, if implemented, would result in additional direction from Education to LEAs about how they should meet an existing federal requirement. By setting clear direction about how LEAs should meet existing federal requirements, we believe Education would strengthen its ability to oversee special education in California.


Recommendation #4 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To better communicate with parents and future IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, Long Beach should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record these reasons in student IEP documents.

Agency Response*

We have reviewed individual student IEP's for specific language on the need to change related services. After training the teachers on the content of the language, we did a review of documents and determined that the stated language is being included.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: February 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Although we made a specific request, Long Beach did not provide any documentation to support its claim that it has fully implemented this recommendation. Accordingly, we continue to assess the recommendation as partially implemented.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

We have sought feedback from parents on the referral process and have made refinements that reflect an earlier point of communication when there are concerns. We have provided training to teachers on the IEP process and how to record concerns/conversations as they are taking place in IEP meetings. A random review of IEP's (done internally) reveals that teachers are beginning to use new and more specific language in documenting processes within the IEP.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: December 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Long Beach held a special education teacher meeting in February 2017, and the assistant superintendent of school support services distributed a memorandum communicating the discussion from the meeting regarding documentation of related service changes, including mental health services. As part of that communication, Long Beach indicated that the notes in the IEP should include reasons for changes. However, Long Beach did not provide any evidence of the random review of IEPs it performed to substantiate the new and more specific language used within the IEP.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

We are working on a process with our Community Advisory Committee (parent group) to align the documentation that takes place for mental health services in IEP's

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: 01/15/17
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Long Beach has updated its status from its 60-day response by now stating that it is working on a process. Accordingly, we have revised our assessment to indicate that the status is pending.


Agency Response*

In combination with required CDE monitoring and training, the District has implemented additional teacher trainings to review and train on applicable state and federal laws.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: Ongoing
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

In March 2016 Long Beach provided training to its teachers on the continuum of placement options for students in special education. Although the training provided information on how to use the continuum of placement form, it did not communicate that the reasons for any changes to student services need to be documented and where those reasons should be documented.


Recommendation #5 To: Mt. Diablo Unified School District

To better communicate with parents and future IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, Mt. Diablo should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record these reasons in student IEP documents.

Agency Response*

In order to address the concerns raised by the auditors the district provided additional guidance to the case managers regarding the documentation of changes to mental health services and student placements. An email was sent on December 13th to all staff with this guidance.

The district also continued the process already established of auditing five files monthly of IEPs to determine that changes to service were appropriately documented. Files that were incomplete were directed back to the case manager for correction and amendments were made.

The IEP evidence submitted through the encrypted system demonstrates that the IEP documentation process has been changed to ensure IEP teams explicitly state the reasons for changes and recommended services on IEPs. The evidence also shows that IEPs found to be deficient in this area will be amended to ensure compliance.

The district will continue to participate in this process to ensure reasons for service and placement changes are documented in IEPs and those changes are explicitly related to descriptions of student's behavior or academic needs.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: December 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

Staff has been provided with professional development in March 2016 which indicates that all services should be documented fully, especially when changes to services are included in an IEP.

The District reviews files monthly to review if changes in service are documented correctly. Please find attached the five files for April, May and June to reflect that service was discussed and documented as part of the IEP development.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: April 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Mt. Diablo provided evidence that it reviews a selection of five student files every month to determine whether or if the reason for a change to services or placement was recorded in the student's IEP document. However, when we reviewed the same IEP documents that Mt. Diablo did, we discovered that Mt. Diablo incorrectly concluded that IEP teams had documented the reasons for service or placement changes. Therefore, this recommendation remains partially implemented until Mt. Diablo can demonstrate that it is verifying that reasons are documented in an appropriate manner.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

Staff has been provided with professional development on March 11, 2016 which indicates that all services should be documented clearly and the reasons for those changes should be explicitly spelled out or a reference to the report where the reason for the changes can be documents.

A Teacher Tip will be provided and checks of up to five records per month will be conducted to ensure staff implements the directive.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Recommendation #6 To: Riverside County SELPA

To better communicate with parents and future IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, Riverside should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record these reasons in student IEP documents.

Agency Response*

RC SELPA's ERMHS Coordinator and ERMHS Case Managers engage in weekly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms anytime a student is being considered for additional services or placement in a more restrictive environment, including but not limited to WRAP services, placement in non-public schools (NPS), and placement in residential treatment centers (RTC). The ERMHS team facilitates pre-meetings prior to a student's IEP to consult and provide guidance to the IEP team regarding interventions and possible placement recommendations. No IEP team decisions are made during these pre-meeting or phone consultations.

Following IEPs that result in changes to services or movement to a more restrictive environment, the ERMHS team conducts a post-IEP consultation to ensure that appropriate procedures were followed and rationale were included in the IEP. In the event such rationale is not adequate and/or the process, including lower levels of intervention, are not followed the ERMHS Coordinator and/or Case Managers contact the LEA directly and request that changes be made in the form of an IEP amendment.

This recommendation has been fully implemented to the extent Riverside County SELPA has direct oversight of our member LEAs. A random audit of student IEPs (done internally) revealed that, "communication with parents and IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements" is being clearly documented in the IEP. The 26 member LEAs follow the guidance previously provided by RC SELPA and ensure that rationale for changes to services, including ERMHS, is clearly documented in the IEP.

Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and amendments demonstrating appropriate rationale for individual students being placed in more restrictive environments. Evidence for three students has been sent via an encrypted email.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

Riverside has indicated that it ensures the reasons for changes to student services are documented in IEPs through consultation with IEP teams and following up with the team if necessary. Additionally, it provided examples that demonstrate that student IEPs contain reasons for changes in placement. Accordingly, we assess this recommendation as fully implemented.


Agency Response*

RCSELPA continues to closely monitor the IEP development of all students receiving ERMHS services. All RCSELPA LEA Special Education Directors have agreed to follow the adopted guidance and implement the" ERMHS Needs Review" and "ERMHS Intensive Needs" forms prior to making any changes to the IEP of any student receiving ERMHS. In addition RC SELPA's ERMHS Coordinator, ERMHS Case Managers and Program Specialist engage in monthly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms. The ERMHS team also attends IEP meetings that may include a discussion of potential residential placement. Per the results of the 6-month review additional information was requested pertaining specifically to how RC SELPA provides feedback when the IEP team does not include the required rationale in the IEP prior to making a change in placement. During the monthly monitoring conducted by RC SELPA ERMHS support team, determination is made whether or not the IEP document includes adequate rationale and whether or not the ERMHS Needs Review process has been fully implemented. In the event such rationale is not adequate and/or the process, including lower levels of intervention, are not followed the ERMHS Coordinator and/or Case Managers contact the LEA directly and request that changes be made in the form of an IEP amendment. The RCSELPA ERMHS support team provides feedback regarding alternatives to a more restrictive placement. RCSELPA has continued to host meetings including service providers and administrators from each of our LEAs to provide ongoing training on the ERMHS Needs Review Process and interventions. Ongoing professional learning in this area has been conducted. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and completed ERMHS Needs Review forms, and email communication between RC SELPA ERMHS Case Manager and individual LEA representatives. Evidence for three students has been sent via an encrypted email.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

In its response, Riverside indicates that we asked it to better support how it provides feedback to IEP teams when the reasons for changes to placement are not noted in the student's IEP document. We specifically noted in our comment on Riverside's six-month response to this recommendation that Riverside had implemented a review process that included a review of whether an IEP includes reasons for a student's placement. However, we observed that Riverside's process did not also note whether the reasons for changes to services were included in the IEP document. Accordingly, we continue to assess Riverside's implementation of this recommendation as only partially implemented. We expected that Riverside would demonstrate in its one-year response how it is checking whether the IEP document includes reasons for service changes. The documents that Riverside submitted in support of this response do not demonstrate that this review is occurring. We look forward to further updates from Riverside as to how it is implementing a review of IEP documents that considers whether the reasons for changes to services are included in these documents.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

In addition to the adoption and full implementation of "Mental Health in Schools" noted in the 6-week response, Riverside County SELPA (RC SELPA) continues to closely monitor the IEP development of all students receiving educationally related mental health services (ERHMS). All RC SELPA local educational agency (LEA) Special Education Directors have agreed to follow the adopted guidance and implement the" Educationally Related Mental Health Services Needs Review" and "ERMHS Intensive Needs" forms prior to making any changes to the IEP of any student receiving ERMHS. In addition RC SELPA's Mental Health Manager, Mental Health Case Manager, and Program Specialist engage in monthly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms. The Mental Health Manager and Case Manager also attend all IEP meetings that may result in a discussion of potential residential treatment facility placement.

In June 2016, RC SELPA Coordinating Council, comprised of 22 special education directors, approved updating the data gathering forms and included them as appendices in the "Mental Health in Schools" document. Special Education Directors will continue to remind service providers that specific rationale for change of placement is to be noted in the Team Summary Notes as well as within the Educational Setting Page of the IEP. Finally, RC SELPA is currently recruiting a second Mental Health Case Manager to support ongoing monthly monitoring. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and completed ERMHS Needs Review and ERMHS Intensive Needs forms (all available upon request).

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: June 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Riverside has implemented an IEP review process, which it refers to as the ERMHS Needs Review. That review process includes a review of whether a student's IEP includes reasons for a student's placement. It also notes changes to student services. However, it does not note whether the reasons for changes to services were included in the IEP document. To fully implement this recommendation, Riverside's review should include checking whether the IEP document includes reasons for service changes.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

The Riverside County SELPA Adopted "Mental Health in Schools" on December 9, 2011 and approved revisions on February 17, 2012, August 16, 2013; March 13, 2015. It has been fully implemented since we hired SELPA-level mental health case manager, discontinued contract with county mental health, the LEAs hired mental health personnel, and personnel were trained. Evidence includes SELPA guidelines and sample training materials emailed to bobh@auditor.ca.gov.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Riverside's guidelines and training materials do not directly address the need to document in the student's IEP the reasons why services or placement are changed. Further, Riverside has not yet developed a process to ensure that this documentation is occurring. Therefore, this recommendation is still pending implementation.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Recommendation #7 To: South East Consortium SELPA

To better communicate with parents and future IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, South East should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record these reasons in student IEP documents.

Agency Response*

The SELPA conducted a Training of Trainers on Prior Written Notice (PWN). The training aimed to provide information to attendees on how to better document changes on students' special education and related services, including changes to mental health services and placement. The training included guided practice on writing PWNs in different scenarios.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

The training activities specified in this response, along with the efforts described in South East's six-month response, demonstrate that the SELPA has fully implemented the recommendation.


Agency Response*

The South East SELPA developed a Prior Written Notice resource guide. The resource guide has been distributed to LEA Special Education Directors. PWN trainings scheduled Fall 2016.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: On or before the one year final follow-up date.
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

South East has partially implemented the recommendation through the development of its Prior Written Notice (PWN) resource guide, which explicitly requires LEAs to provide notice to parents when the provision of a free and appropriate public education involves a change to services, including other notice triggering examples. The resource guide discusses the elements of a PWN, including a description of the action proposed or refused by the LEA and an explanation of why the LEA is proposing or refusing to take action. The resource guide also states that an IEP may be used in lieu of a PWN, but that all elements of the PWN must be included. As we state on page 29 of our report, we believe that it is important for the student's IEP document to stand on its own and contain clear reasons why services are removed. Whether South East trains its LEAs to include the required PWN information in the IEP document or attach the PWN to the IEP document, we believe this is a reasonable approach so long as the reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, are included in the student IEP documents.


Agency Response*

The SELPA is working with legal counsel in creating a procedure/process on how IEP teams can document reasons for any changes to special education services, including educationally-related mental health services, and placements.

The procedure/process will be presented to the South East Consortium SELPA Operations Committee comprised of special education directors from each local education agency that make-up the South East Consortium SELPA. The procedure/process will also be presented to the Executive Council of Superintendents for approval. After approval, the procedure/process will be disseminated to all special education staff and IEP teams within South East Consortium SELPA.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 1/19/2017
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #8 To: Education, Department of

To enable it to review additional areas of its special education program for quality assurance, Education should collect information about the frequency of the provision of each service contained in all students' IEPs. Education should then use this information to annually review the frequency of mental health services and follow up with SELPAs when it observes a significant reduction in the frequency of services.

Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation as it relates to undertaking new data collections from LEAs. However, Education followed through with its review of AB 114 (fund balances and frequency data). This review determined that there was no significant decline in the frequency of mental health services (see response provided for Recommendation 21). In addition, the data did not provide evidence of significant declines in mental health related services from FY 2011-2012 through FY 2014-2015. Education considers this recommendation closed and no further updates will be provided.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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

Education states that it will not implement this recommendation and explains that the recommendation would require it to collect additional data from LEAs. Education also indicates that it believes it identified no significant decline in the frequency of mental health services through an assessment it performed in response to Recommendation 21. However, that assessment addressed the number of services provided, rather than the frequency of those services. Further, it is unclear to us how Education would be able to identify any trends in data that it acknowledges it does not currently collect from LEAs.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation as it relates to undertaking new data collections from LEAs. However, Education is initiating a new monitoring activity this year that addresses elements of this recommendation, as well as "Chapter 2 - Recommendation No. 2" below. This new activity includes reviewing existing data Education receives from LEAs concerning their implementation of IEP-based mental health services (including the frequency of such planned services), reviewing each LEA's history in expending AB 114 funds, and identifying any LEAs that have large AB 114 fund balances and a concurrent decrease of reported planned IEP-based mental health services. Education will contact any LEAs identified as having large AB 114 fund balances and a corresponding decrease of reported planned IEP-based mental health services to obtain additional information. The information requested will concern the LEA's use of AB 114 funds and any other fund sources to provide IEP-based mental health services, and its recent history concerning the provision of IEP-based mental health services. Based on the information provided by the LEAs, Education will follow up as appropriate to obtain additional information and potentially initiate additional monitoring activities to address concerns about the LEA's use of funds or provision of IEP-based mental health services.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Education states that it does not agree with portions of our recommendation. Specifically, it indicates that it does not agree that it should collect additional information from LEAs beyond what it already collects. However, as we state in our audit report, Education does not require LEAs to report information about the frequency of services included in students' IEPs. Because collecting and analyzing data about the frequency of services would provide Education with information it could use as it oversees the special education program, we recommended that Education first collect this information and then analyze it to identify any significant reductions in service frequencies. Education asserts that as part of implementing recommendation 21, it is analyzing the frequency of services. However, it is unclear to us from its response how it plans to do this analysis without first requiring LEAs to submit this information. Until Education requires LEAs to report frequency information, it will not be able to conduct this analysis for all LEAs and therefore will not be able to fully implement this recommendation.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. As explained in our prior responses, aggregated frequency data provides limited insight on the quality of local service provision given that services are expected to change in response to changing student needs. Consequently, service delivery pattern changes should occur accordingly.

However, in an effort to gain further insight concerning LEAs' provisions of mental health services, Education is reviewing the annual reporting of the number and frequency of mental health services provided to students. In cases in which an LEA's year-to-year services decline significantly, Education plans to ascertain the causes for the decline and provide technical assistance when appropriate.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Despite the fact that Education indicated that it will not implement this recommendation, we have assessed this recommendation as pending implementation. In its response, Education states that it is reviewing the annual reporting of the number and frequency of mental health services provided to students and that it plans to analyze this data to identify the reasons for any declines in service provision. Because its planned action is essentially what we recommended Education should do, we determined that the recommendation is pending implementation.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. As explained in our initial response, aggregated frequency data provides limited insight on the quality of local service provision given that decisions are expected to change in response to changing student needs. Changes in type and frequency of student services provided are expected due to changing student needs. Consequently, service delivery pattern changes could occur accordingly.

However, changes in current state law could impose additional obligations on LEAs that may create new reporting requirements. For example, Senator Beall's office has sought Education's input and assistance in drafting legislation, Senate Bill 884* (SB 884), that would require LEAs to annually report the actual frequency of each related service provided to each student pursuant to the Individualized Education Programs (IEP). This additional information would allow Education to make year-to-year comparisons to identify anomalies in service provision levels among LEAs, and to follow up if needed; Education will require additional resources to undertake this increase in workload.

*The specific legislative language noted in this response can be found in SB 884, which is pending approval and subject to revision.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

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

Education's response is confusing. Education appears supportive of legislation that would require LEAs to submit data on the frequency of services on student IEPs and notes that if this type of data were reported by LEAs, it would be able to perform year-to-year analysis to monitor service provision levels. However, in its response to our recommendation to collect this same type of data and analyze it, Education states that this data can provide only limited insight. Unlike other recommendations in our report, we directed this recommendation to Education and not to the Legislature. We continue to believe that our recommendation, if implemented, would improve Education's oversight of special education and that it should be implemented without delay.


Recommendation #9 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that LEAs comply with federal and state requirements, Education should require all LEAs to use the IEP document to communicate the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

Agency Response*

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

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation for the reasons previously stated. Current federal and state laws require parents to be informed of any changes in a student's placement, and to consider potential harmful effects to the student from the change in placement; Education does this. Additionally, Education's monitoring processes produce corrections to LEAs found to be out of compliance with requirements to inform parents of changes in placement and to consider potential harmful effects to students that may result from a change in placement.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: January 2017

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

Education continues to decline to implement a recommendation that would assist it with the compliance reviews it states that it conducts. LEAs are already required to document the rationale for residential placement and consider the potential harmful effects of such placements. Because a documentation requirement already exists, it would not likely be overly burdensome to LEAs for Education to direct where specifically the LEAs should record these considerations. Further, having a consistent expectation for where these considerations should be documented could make it easier for Education to monitor compliance with these requirements.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. While IEP teams are always required to document and communicate the rationale for changes in a student's placement, federal law does not require such documentation to be specifically included in the student's IEP. Instead, federal law allows for such documentation to be included elsewhere in the student's file. Further, Education's current monitoring and follow-up activities effectively assesses LEAs' compliance with federal and state requirements, which include: (1) the federal requirement that in selecting a "Least Restrictive Environment," consideration must be given to the potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs; and (2) the state requirement that the IEP document the rationale for any placement other than the pupil's school and classroom in which the pupil would attend if the pupil was not disabled.

Furthermore, Education's LEA monitoring processes address the requirement for LEAs to clearly communicate the rationale for providing a student with IEP-based residential services, and for considering any potential harmful effects to the student due to such placement. LEAs found to be out of compliance are provided technical assistance to correct identified deficiencies. Education then follows up with LEAs to ensure continued compliance with federal and state requirements.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

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

It continues to be unclear to us why Education disagrees with this recommendation given that it states that LEAs are required to document the rationale for residential placement and consider the potential harmful effects of such placements. As noted in our report, our recommendation would not likely be overly burdensome to LEAs, and the four SELPAs we visited during our audit were all supportive of similar recommendations we directed to them.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Education contends that its current monitoring and follow-up activities effectively ensure LEAs' compliance with federal and state requirements, which include the: (1) federal requirement that in selecting a "Least Restrictive Environment," consideration must be given to the potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs; and (2) state requirement that the IEP document the rationale for placement in other than the pupil's school and classroom in which the pupil would attend if the pupil was not disabled.

Furthermore, Education's LEA monitoring processes address the requirement for LEAs to clearly communicate the rationale for providing a student with IEP-based residential services, and for considering any potential harmful effects to the student due to such placement. LEAs found to be out of compliance are provided technical assistance to correct identified deficiencies. Education then follows up with LEAs to ensure continued compliance with federal and state requirements.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

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

It is not clear to us why Education disagrees with this recommendation given that it states that LEAs are required to document the rationale for residential placement and consider the potential harmful effects of such placements. As noted in our report, our recommendation would not likely be overly burdensome to LEAs, and the four SELPAs we visited during our audit were all supportive of similar recommendations we directed to them.


Recommendation #10 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To ensure that it complies with federal and state requirements, Long Beach should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record, in student IEP documents, the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

Agency Response*

We have communicated the need for specific language in the IEP to teachers. We did a document review of IEPs to insure that the necessary language has been used. and it is being effectively implemented.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: February 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Although we made a specific request, Long Beach did not provide any documentation to support its claim that it has fully implemented this recommendation. Accordingly, we continue to assess the recommendation as partially implemented.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

We have provided specific training to the NPS/RTC administrator to insure that discussions take place and language is included in IEP's that reflects the serious, restrictive nature of a residential placement. Random review (led internally) of IEP's for students that are newly placed to RTC indicate that this language has been included.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: December 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Long Beach held a special education teacher meeting in February 2017, and the assistant superintendent of school support services distributed a memorandum communicating the discussion from the meeting regarding documentation of related service changes, including mental health services. As part of that communication, Long Beach indicated that if a student is accessing a residential treatment center as part of the mental health service recommendation, the notes in the IEP should include the rationale for placement and any harmful effects that the team feels may occur as a result of the placement. However, Long Beach did not provide any evidence of the random review of IEPs it performed to substantiate that this language was included within the IEP.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

We are working on this process in collaboration with teachers at the middle and high school level.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: 01/15/17
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Agency Response*

In combination with required CDE monitoring and training, the District has implemented additional teacher trainings to review and train on applicable state and federal laws.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: Ongoing
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #11 To: Mt. Diablo Unified School District

To ensure that it complies with federal and state requirements, Mt. Diablo should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record, in student IEP documents, the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

Agency Response*

The district provided a directive to staff to document explicitly on all IEPs the reason a student requires residential treatment and the potential harmful effects of such placement. This was in effect in fall 2017.

MDUSD has established a process by which the IEPs of students receiving residential treatment are reviewed monthly at the District Manager's meeting to ensure the IEPs contain the required documentation. If the IEP is found to be out of compliance the administrator case managing the student is directed to amend the IEP to include the information.

MDUSD will submit documents via the secure portal to illustrate the process and the examples of IEPs that contain the information explicitly stated along with examples of documents that were amended as part of the process to ensure the IEPs correctly identify the reason for residential treatment and the harmful effects of the placement.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

Mt. Diablo submitted evidence that it is reviewing the IEPs of students receiving residential treatment and ensuring that the rationale for residential treatment and the potential harmful effects of that placement are documented. Additionally, Mt. Diablo formalized its policy to revise IEPs that it determines do not include this information and demonstrated that it amends IEPs to include those details.


Agency Response*

The District has provided a directive that all reasons students are placed into residential treatment should be documented in the IEP, along with the potential harmful effects of such placement. At this time, IEPs have been held for two students where this has occurred.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: July 2016
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Mt. Diablo did not submit evidence demonstrating that the rationale for residential treatment and the potential harmful effects of that placement were recorded in student IEPs. Accordingly, we continue to assess this recommendation as partially implemented.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

Staff placing students into residential programs have been provided with a directive stating that students being placed into residential programs will have an IEP which includes not only the reason for the placement but also the harmful effects of such placement.

Students placed in residential programs have quarterly reviews to this will take three months to implement fully.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Recommendation #12 To: Riverside County SELPA

To ensure that it complies with federal and state requirements, Riverside should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record, in student IEP documents, the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

Agency Response*

Rationale for placement and potential harmful effects is documented within the IEP. RC SELPA's current IEP forms are in accordance with all federal and state mandates. The components of the IEP that address the required rationale include:

1) Describe how student's disability affects involvement and progress in general curriculum ... (Eligibility Page)

2) Describe areas that student will not participate in the general education environment ... (Educational Setting Page)

3) Describe "why" student will not participate in the general education environment ... (Educational Setting Page)

4) Describe the consideration given to any potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs ... (Educational Setting Page)

Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs reviewed and monitored monthly by RC SELPA Mental Health Manager, Case Manager, and Program Specialist in the same manner that RC SELPA will monitor justification of placement decisions. In the event RC SELPA Mental Health Manager or Case Manager is not present at IEP meeting and justification of harmful effects is determined not adequate based on document review, LEA Special Education Director will be notified within 48-hours of finding and recommended corrections.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: May 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

The Riverside County SELPA has implemented the process outlined in "Mental Health in Schools". In April 2015 we also adopted a document about "Research on Intensive Mental Health Services". We have reduced the number of residential placements by implementing intensive community based services. We have implemented an ERMHS Needs Review Form for LEAs to submit to the SELPA to access the centralized funds set aside for Tier 3 to ensure interventions have been implemented at lower levels of care. We also require justification and evidence of consideration of potential harmful effects. Evidence includes SELPA documents, the form, and sample training materials.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Riverside's guidance materials do not directly address the need to document in the student IEP the rationale for residential placement and the potential harmful effects of such a placement. Further, Riverside has not yet developed a process to ensure that this documentation occurs. Therefore, this recommendation is still pending implementation.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Recommendation #13 To: South East Consortium SELPA

To ensure that it complies with federal and state requirements, South East should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record, in student IEP documents, the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

Agency Response*

The South East SELPA conducted a PWN training to assist districts in documenting rationale for residential placement in addition to creating a PWN Resource Guide.

The South East SELPA IEP Resource Guide includes sample potential harmful effects statements. The Resource Guide has been disseminated to LEA members and posted on the SELPA website and web-based IEP system.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

The training activities referenced in the response, along with the efforts described in South East's six-month response, demonstrate that the SELPA has fully implemented this recommendation.


Agency Response*

The South East SELPA developed the IEP Resource Guide and the PWN Resource Guide. Both guides are available on the web IEP system. Additional training scheduled for Fall 2016.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: On or before the one year final follow-up date.
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

South East's IEP resource guide directs IEP teams to where in the IEP document they should record the consideration of any potential harmful effects of all placements, including residential, and provides a partial list of examples of potential harmful effects that IEP teams may consider. The resource guide also directs IEP teams to where in the IEP document they must include the rationale for why not all special education services are provided at the student's school of residence. However, the resource guide does not provide a full explanation of what that rationale should include. South East's Prior Written Notice (PWN) resource guide provides a clearer description to LEAs that the purpose of the PWN is to provide sufficient information to ensure the parent understands the rationale behind an LEA's decision making regarding a particular proposed or refused action, including placement in residential treatment. We are satisfied with South East's approach to use both the IEP document and the PWN to record the rationale for residential treatment and any potential harmful effects of such placement, as long as IEP teams avoid using vague or incomplete statements about the rationale for residential treatment in the IEP documents, as we describe more fully in the section starting on page 36 of our report. Moreover, as with other changes to student services that are documented in a PWN, South East should train LEA staff to attach the PWN to the IEP document to ensure the required elements are included.


Agency Response*

The SELPA is working with legal counsel in creating a procedure/process on how IEP teams can document the rationale for residential placements and any potential harmful effects of such placement.

The procedure/process will be presented to the South East Consortium SELPA Operations Committee comprised of special education directors from each local education agency that make-up the South East Consortium SELPA. The procedure/process will also be presented to the Executive Council of Superintendents for approval. After approval, the procedure/process will be disseminated to all special education staff and IEP teams within South East Consortium SELPA.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 1/19/2017
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #14 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To better understand the effectiveness of the mental health services in its special education program, Long Beach should use the six performance indicators we identified to perform analysis annually on the subset of students receiving mental health services.

Agency Response*

We have used the six performance indicators to review the efficacy of mental health services. This has proven to be a helpful activity and has allowed us to make training modifications to monitor progress.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: October 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Although we made a specific request, Long Beach did not provide any documentation to support its claim that it has fully implemented this recommendation. Accordingly, we continue to assess the recommendation as pending implementation.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Agency Response*

We have worked in tandem with service providers to evaluate the efficacy of the services that students are receiving. Teachers have been included in this process to insure that there is common understanding amongst those that are linking mental health resources to a student's IEP. Random review (led internally) indicates that student's IEP goal development and attainment is more clearly delineated in each IEP.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending

Although Long Beach states that it and service providers evaluated the efficacy of the services that students are receiving and that it performed a random review of student IEPs and found that goal development and attainment is more clearly delineated in those it reviewed, it has not taken steps towards using the six performance indicators to analyze the subset of students receiving mental health services.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

We will be working on this with a selected work group of teachers.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: 01/15/17
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Agency Response*

The District is awaiting further clarification from CDE regarding how to monitor outcomes. Recent legislation has been proposed by the legislature that would effect this process.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #15 To: Mt. Diablo Unified School District

To better understand the effectiveness of the mental health services in its special education program, Mt. Diablo should use the six performance indicators we identified to perform analysis annually on the subset of students receiving mental health services.

Agency Response*

The district has submitted a document through the secure portal that indicates the process by which we will monitor the six indicators outlined in the audit report: graduation rate, drop out rate, statewide assessment results, suspension and expulsion rates, participation in general education classes and post-school outcomes.

The process outlines that annually district administrators will request data from both reporting systems and then use that data to compare the results of each indicator comparing student who received mental health services with students who did not receive such services.

While it is possible to identity conclusions such as "students who receive mental health services are employed at lower rates than their peers who did not receive mental health services, it is not possible to draw causality as there are many factors that are beyond the district's control such as ongoing mental health needs and educational and employment goals the district does use the information to guide discussions regarding provision of mental health services and identifying potential other supports our students may need to assist them achieve success once they leave the K-12 system.

in addition to the document outlining the process, the indicator results from the past school year and the analysis have been submitted through the secure portal. This process will be repeated at the end of each school year.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: November 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

The district is in the process of compiling year end CASEMIS and CALPADS reports which are in the process of being filed and are not yet due. Once these reports are compelted the District will review the data and analyze the six performance indicators identified to determine effectiveness of programs.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Agency Response*

MDUSD will add Mental Health Services to its current practice of reviewing student outcomes by site. this is done annually using end of school year data for graduation and drop out rates.

In addition, we will add analysis of the six performance indicators identified in order to determine effectiveness of each program in student outcomes.

This process will occur during summer 2016 and occur annually thereafter.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #16 To: Murrieta Valley Unified School District

To better understand the effectiveness of the mental health services in its special education program, Murrieta Valley should use the six performance indicators we identified to perform analysis annually on the subset of students receiving mental health services.

Agency Response*

The Murrieta Valley Unified School District (District) started implementing the recommendation of tracking student data/outcomes related to the following six indicators outlined in the audit report: 1) Graduation; 2) Drop Out; 3) State-wide Assessment Participation and Proficiency; 4) Suspension/Expulsion; 5) Participation in General Education; 6) Post-School Outcomes. The District collected baseline data for each outcome using data from the 2014-15 school year for indicators 1-5. The District used data from the 2013-14 school year to develop a baseline for indicator #6 (Post-School Outcomes). The Post-School Outcomes for 2014-15 school year are collected a year later and will be available in the next few months. The district provided the auditors with a table including baseline data for each indicator.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: February 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #17 To: East Side Union High School District

To better understand the effectiveness of the mental health services in its special education program, East Side should use the six performance indicators we identified to perform analysis annually on the subset of students receiving mental health services.

Agency Response*

Response emailed to Bob Harris.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 2018
  • Response Date: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

East Side provided evidence that it is continuing to measure the same general education participation data that it demonstrated at its last response. It has also indicated that it continues to have difficulty measuring post-school outcomes for the students who had received mental health services.


Agency Response*

The East Side Union High School District has established processes to analyze our data for students with emotional disabilities/receiving mental health services, along the parameters of the 6 performance indicators.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: January 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

East Side's 6-month response provided an analysis of the subset of students receiving mental health services that did not include data for participation in general education classes or post-school outcomes, which are two of the six performance indicators. East Side has since provided an analysis of the subset of students receiving mental health services and their participation in general education classes. However, East Side asserted that it has been unable to successfully follow up with any students who were in special education about their post-school outcomes. Staff at East Side have developed new forms for students to fill out before they leave school that East Side hopes will allow it to collect data on this indicator for all students who were in special education, including the subset who received mental health services.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

We developed a set of data to analyze the 6 indicators on a yearly basis. We plan to use it to improve our services to students with mental health needs who are served in our programs.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

East Side provided its analysis of data on the subset of students receiving mental health services, which included four of the six factors we identified in our report. However, East Side did not include data for participation in general education classes or post-school outcomes as part of its analysis.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

The Director of Special Services and the Director of Assessment and Accountability work together to develop meaningful reports for the special education. We are developing a process to be able to conduct this analysis at the end of the year.

The 6 indicators include:

- Graduation Rate

- Dropout Rate

- Statewide Assessments (participation and proficiency)

- Suspension and expulsion

- Participation in general education classes

- Post-school outcomes

Please note that statewide testing only occurs in 11th grade in high school and that post­ school outcomes will not be available until students leave our system. The same is true of graduation rate, which is only available after students graduate. We are working through how to make these indicators meaningful. Additionally, we are working with the special education coordinator and CASEMIS manager to ensure that all students receiving mental health services are reflected in report. We are working with our T department to determine which of our data based systems will best support what we need to do . We also have an appointment next week with a software company who has a product for these purposes.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 6/30/16
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #18 To: Education, Department of

Education should analyze and report to the Legislature, by May 30, 2016, on the outcomes for students receiving mental health services statewide, including outcomes across the six performance indicators we identified, in order to demonstrate whether those services are effective. Once it has reported this statewide information, Education should provide each LEA throughout the State a report regarding the outcomes for the students the LEA served.

Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. However, Education is complying with SB 884, Chapter 835, Statutes of 2016, sections 3 and 4. A draft report is currently in process and will be sent to the Legislature.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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


Agency Response*

Senate Bill 884, chaptered September 29, 2016, added Section 56415 to the California Education Code. Pursuant to that statute, Education will create a report on pupil outcomes for pupils receiving mental health services through an individualized education program. Pupil outcomes will include graduation rates, dropout rates, statewide assessment results, suspension and expulsion rates, participation in general education classes, and postschool data. Education will send this report to the appropriate fiscal and policy committees of the Legislature by June 30, 2017, as required by the statute.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Education questions the auditor's rationalization that the quality of mental health services a student receives can be measured by the student's academic outcomes given the various factors that influence those outcomes. Education is concerned that observers may assign direct causality between IEP-based mental health services and a student's educational outcomes based on the data proposed for collection by this recommendation. Given that there are numerous factors that affect a student's educational performance, it would not be practical to attribute increases or decreases in performance based on any single factor, or to determine the relative benefit of one element of a student's educational experience on the student's performance.

However, changes in current state law could impose additional obligations on LEAs that may create new reporting requirements. For example, although in draft form, Senate Bill 884 (SB 884) would require LEAs to annually provide data needed to document student outcomes on the six key performance indicators recommended for any student receiving IEP-based related services. If this legislation is enacted, Education could use the available data to report to each LEA the student outcome data for students with disabilities the LEA served in accordance with the State Systemic Improvement Plan for special education.

While Education currently collects outcome data, the auditor's recommendation would require Education to acquire additional outcome data and incur new responsibilities concerning how the data would be reported. Consequently, Education would need additional resources to implement the reporting aspect of the recommendation. Furthermore, given that the recommendation would impose a new reporting requirement on LEAs, Education anticipates that there will also be a fiscal impact on LEAs.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

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

As it did in its 60-day response, Education continues to believe that it is constrained to performing a very narrow analysis in order to implement our recommendation. As we highlight in our audit report, if Education analyzed academic outcomes for students receiving mental health services as they compare to the outcomes for students who did not receive mental health services, then it would be able to reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of those services because the services would be the only factor that distinguished the two groups from one another.

We are unclear why Education believes it would need to collect additional information to implement our recommendation. As we discuss in our audit report, state law already requires SELPAs to forward outcome information to Education, and Education publishes a report that describes the outcomes for the entire population of students receiving special education, including the six key areas we included in our recommendation. Further, Education already collects information about the services that are included in students' IEPs, which would allow it to identify, from the entire population it already reports on, those students who received a mental health service. Therefore, it is puzzling that Education is claiming it does not have all the information it would need to implement our recommendation.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Education questions the auditor's rationalization that the quality of mental health services a student receives can be measured by the student's academic outcomes given the various factors that influence those outcomes. Education is concerned that observers may assign direct causality between IEP-based mental health services and a student's educational outcomes based on the data proposed for collection by this recommendation. Given that there are numerous factors that affect a student's educational performance, it would not be practical to attribute increases or decreases in performance based on any single factor, or to determine the relative benefit of one element of a student's educational experience on the student's performance.

However, changes in current state law could impose additional obligations on LEAs that may create new reporting requirements. For example, Senator Beall's office has sought Education's input and assistance in drafting legislation, Senate Bill 884* (SB 884), that would require LEAs to annually provide data needed to document student outcomes on the six key performance indicators recommended for any student receiving IEP-based related services. If this legislation is approved, Education could use the available data to report to each LEA the student outcome data for students with disabilities the LEA served in accordance with the State Systemic Improvement Plan for special education.

While Education currently collects outcome data, the auditor's recommendation would require Education to acquire additional outcome data and incur new responsibilities concerning how the data would be reported. Consequently, Education would need additional resources to implement the reporting aspect of the recommendation. Furthermore, given that the recommendation would impose a new reporting requirement on LEAs, Education anticipates that there will also be a fiscal impact on LEAs.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

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

Education continues to believe that it is constrained to performing a very narrow analysis in order to implement our recommendation. As we highlight in our audit report, if Education analyzed academic outcomes for students receiving mental health services as they compare to the outcomes for students who did not receive mental health services, then it would be able to reach a conclusion about the effectiveness of those services because the services would be the only factor that distinguished the two groups from one another.

We are unclear why Education believes it would need to collect additional information to implement our recommendation. As we discuss in our audit report, state law already requires SELPAs to forward outcome information to Education, and Education publishes a report that describes the outcomes for the entire population of students receiving special education, including the six key areas we included in our recommendation. Further, Education already collects information about the services that are included in students' IEPs, which would allow it to identify, from the entire population it already reports on, those students who received a mental health service. Therefore, it is puzzling that Education is claiming it does not have all the information it would need to implement our recommendation.


Recommendation for Legislative Action

The Legislature should amend state law to require counties to enter into agreements with SELPAs to allow SELPAs and their LEAs to access EPSDT funding through the county mental health plans by providing EPSDT mental health services. If individual counties can demonstrate good reason why this type of arrangement is not possible or beneficial, the amended law should allow the counties to opt out of the collaboration by seeking a time-limited waiver from Health Care Services. The Legislature should require Health Care Services to make a final determination as to whether counties will be allowed to opt out of the required collaboration. The Legislature should require counties seeking a waiver to specify what barriers exist to working with SELPAs and their LEAs and how the county is attempting to remove those barriers.

Description of Legislative Action

Senate Bill 1113 would have specifically authorized a county, or a qualified provider operating as part of the county mental health plan network, and a local educational agency (LEA) to enter into a partnership that includes, among other things, an agreement to provide mental health services to specified pupils. The bill would also have created the County and Local Educational Agency Partnership Fund in the State Treasury that would be available upon appropriation by the Legislature to the Department of Education (Education) for the purpose of funding these partnerships, and would have required Education to fund these partnerships through a competitive grant program. This bill was vetoed by the Governor.

  • Legislative Action Current As-of: November 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Legislation Proposed But Not Enacted


Recommendation #20 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that the State knows the amount LEAs spend to provide mental health services for student IEPs, before the start of the 2017-18 fiscal year, Education should develop, and require all LEAs to follow, an accounting methodology to track and report expenditures related to special education mental health services.

Agency Response*

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

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Although Education does not plan to implement the recommendation, Education will continue to require LEAs to track and report how they spend federal and state funds they receive specifically for mental health services using the resource code field in the standardized account code structure. Mental health services costs are currently coded to various other categories, such as "psychological services" or "counseling services." However, as previously explained, Education is concerned that, (1) establishing new codes to track mental health costs could result in Education losing other information that it currently collects; and (2) the additional burden or costs that LEAs may incur to track expenditures to this level of specificity could outweigh the perceived benefits of having this information.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: January 2017

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

As we discussed in our report, school districts we visited spent funds other than those specifically appropriated for mental health services to provide these services to students through IEPs. Therefore, until Education requires districts to track their total spending on IEP-related mental health services, the State cannot know the true cost of providing these services. We continue to stand by our position that Education should implement this recommendation to be able to provide the Legislature and the public with information about whether LEAs have cost-effective approaches to provide mental health services to students who receive special education.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Although Education does not plan to implement the recommendation, Education will continue to require LEAs to track and report how they spend federal and state funds they receive specifically for mental health services using the resource code field in the standardized account code structure. Mental health services costs are currently coded to various other categories, such as "psychological services" or "counseling services." However, as previously explained, Education is concerned that, (1) establishing new codes to track mental health costs could result in Education losing other information that it currently collects; and (2) the additional burden or costs that LEAs may incur to track expenditures to this level of specificity could outweigh the perceived benefits of having this information.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

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

Education repeats objections to our recommendation that it raised in its 60-day response. We continue to stand by our position that Education should implement this recommendation to be able to provide the Legislature and the public with information about whether LEAs have cost-effective approaches to provide mental health services to students who receive special education.


Agency Response*

Education continues to not concur with this recommendation. Mental health services costs are currently coded to various other categories, such as "psychological services" or "counseling services." As explained in our initial response, Education is concerned that, (1) establishing new codes to track mental health costs could result in Education losing other information that it currently collects; and (2) additional burden or costs that LEAs may incur to track expenditures to this level of specificity could outweigh the perceived benefits of having this information. Nonetheless, in March 2016, Education commenced discussions with LEAs to obtain their assessments of the advantages or disadvantages of adding additional codes to the standardized chart of accounts. These discussions with LEAs will provide Education additional information on the categories LEAs currently use to account for mental health services costs so that analyses may be performed as necessary.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

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

We stand by our position that Education should implement this recommendation to be able to provide the Legislature and the public with information about whether LEAs have cost-effective approaches to provide mental health services to students who receive special education.


Recommendation #21 To: Education, Department of

To ensure that LEAs provide mental health services as required, Education should, on an annual basis, identify LEAs with accumulated balances of mental health funding and analyze whether the LEA has had a corresponding drop in mental health service levels. For all LEAs that Education determines have both an accumulated balance and a corresponding drop in services, Education should follow up with the LEA to determine whether the LEA is meeting its obligations to provide mental health services to students as part of the special education program.

Agency Response*

Fully Implemented. AB 114 fund data (funds provided and expended) from FY 2011-2012 through FY 2014-2015 was used to calculate a cumulative fund balance for each LEA. For each LEA with a 50 percent or greater AB 114 cumulative fund balance, their reported Mental Health (MH) related services data (California Special Education Management Information System series 500) was analyzed to identify LEAs with a decrease in MH related services. The data revealed that 15 LEAs had a 50 percent or greater AB 114 cumulative fund balance and a corresponding decline in MH related services. A survey instrument was sent to the 15 LEAs to identify the reasons behind the large fund balance and the decline in MH services. In addition, Education completed in-depth follow up with several of the LEAs to determine whether the LEAs were meeting their obligations to provide mental health services to students as part of the special education program. LEAs identified two instances that accounted for their fund balances and decline in services: (1) districts implemented school-wide MH interventions, taking care of MH needs in a general environment; and (2) smaller districts had small enrollments in MH services and the students left the district. In most cases the declines were in the single digits, showing that a significant decrease had not occurred for any particular LEA.

The data (both fiscal and services) and survey responses collected did not show a substantial decline in MH related services. Decreases in services were accounted for by year to year fluctuations in enrollment encountered by the respondents. The CDE has fully implemented the recommendation and determined that there is a lack of compelling evidence (there were only 15 out of 746 entities with a large fund balance and corresponding decrease in services) to warrant continuation of this activity in the future. No further action will be taken on this recommendation.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Completion Date: April 2017
  • Response Date: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Resolved

Education conducted an analysis that initially determined the cumulative fund balance in special education mental health service related funding by LEA. For each LEA that had a fund balance of 50 percent or more of the funding it had been provided since fiscal year 2011-12, Education then assessed whether the total number of mental health services that the LEA reported offering annually as of December 2011 were higher or lower than the total number of services provided annually as of December 2015. As it states in its response, Education then followed up with those LEAs that showed a cumulative fund balance of 50 percent or more that also had a lower number of services provided as of December 2015. Education asserts that the results of this analysis do not warrant continuing to perform the monitoring of fund balances and service levels on an annual basis as we recommended. Although there may still be some benefit to performing this type of analysis on a periodic basis, we consider this recommendation resolved.


Agency Response*

Education is initiating a new monitoring activity this year that addresses elements of this recommendation. This new activity includes reviewing existing data Education receives from LEAs concerning their implementation of IEP-based mental health services (including the frequency of such planned services), reviewing each LEA's history in expending AB 114 funds, and identifying any LEAs that have large AB 114 fund balances and a concurrent decrease of reported planned IEP-based mental health services. Education will contact any LEAs identified as having large AB 114 fund balances and a corresponding decrease of reported planned IEP-based mental health services to obtain additional information. The information requested will concern the LEA's use of AB 114 funds and any other fund sources to provide IEP-based mental health services, and its recent history concerning the provision of IEP-based mental health services. Based on the information provided by the LEAs, Education will follow up as appropriate to obtain additional information and potentially initiate additional monitoring activities to address concerns about the LEA's use of funds or provision of IEP-based mental health services.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

In its six month response, Education demonstrated that it had informed SELPAs about its plan to review fund balances. In this response, Education describes activities that, if performed, would likely implement our recommendation. This recommendation remains partially implemented. We look forward to Education reporting full implementation at its next update and submitting documentation supporting its implementation efforts.


Agency Response*

Corrective Actions Taken: LEAs recently reported their expenditures of mental health funding for fiscal year 2015-16, and Education: (1) reviewed changes in LEA mental health fund balances; (2) is finalizing criteria for selection of LEAs for follow-up activities related to the delivery of related services and the use of fund sources to pay for them; (3) anticipates initiating follow-up activities with the selected LEAs within the next several weeks; and (4) informed the state's SELPA organization about the enhanced monitoring activity over mental health funding.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 1, 2017
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Education provided evidence that demonstrates it informed SELPAs about its plans to review fund balances.


Agency Response*

Education concurs with this recommendation. LEA expenditures of mental health funding for fiscal year 2015-16 were recently reported and Education is currently reviewing changes in mental health fund balances to determine which LEAs would be appropriate for follow-up monitoring. Education anticipates initiating follow-up activities with the selected LEAs within the next few months.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #22 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To ensure that all staff it hires are qualified to provide mental health services, Long Beach should update its minimum qualifications for the autism supervisor position to comply with state regulatory requirements no later than March 2016.

Agency Response*

Please see the updated job descriptions for each job class.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: August 2016
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

Long Beach provided updated job descriptions that complied with state regulatory requirements, but was unable to substantiate that its Personnel Commission had approved the job descriptions at the 60-day response. In July, Long Beach provided us with additional information that supports the approval of these job descriptions by the Personnel Commission.


Agency Response*

The District has completed its job study and has proposed new job classifications to the Personnel Commission. The District is awaiting action by the Personnel Commission on adopting the new job classifications.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 6/30/2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Long Beach developed a new job description for the autism supervisor position (also known as behavior intervention supervisor) that includes minimum qualifications that comply with state regulatory requirements. According to the assistant superintendent of student support services, the personnel commission approved the new job description, although that approval took place after the 60-day response and the minutes of that meeting are not yet available.


Recommendation #23 To: Mt. Diablo Unified School District

To ensure that the licensed staff it hires are qualified at the time of hire and throughout their employment, Mt. Diablo should follow its formal procedures to ensure that staff possess required licenses when hired and that their licenses remain current while employed.

Agency Response*

The district has submitted through the secure portal documents that demonstrate the Personnel Clerk has engaged in a process by which she tracks the licenses and credentials of each staff member providing mental health services.

The Personnel Clerk maintains a spreadsheet manually by which she tracks the license expiration dates. In addition, the district has submitted screenshots from our data management system which indicates that the license expiration date, along with license number have been added to our system which also generates alerts when licenses and credentials are due to expire. The credential information was already existing at the time of the audit.

In addition, the district has submitted evidence that letters are sent to notify staff of upcoming license expiration dates in order to ensure that they get renewed and the staff is eligible to continue to provide mental health services to students.

The process for this check was submitted in an earlier response.

At this time, all licenses are reviewed per that process.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

The District has directed the Fiscal Clerk to monthly select five files for audit to ensure the District has updated licenses and credentials for all staff. This process was implemented in January of 2016.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: January 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Mt. Diablo did not submit evidence demonstrating that its fiscal clerk is conducting the review of licenses and credentials that it discusses in its response.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

Agency Response*

MDUSD staff has been directed to procure copies of all license and credentials per existing practice but in addition, copies of such documents will be maintained in student files in definitely. This practice is fully implemented.

In addition, MDUSD is working to develop a field in our employee data base which tracks license expiration date, similar to our current practice of tracking credential expiration dates. This is anticipated to be fully implemented by the start of the 2016/2017 school year.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: November 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Recommendation #24 To: Long Beach Unified School District

To ensure that it can demonstrate that the contracted personnel who provide mental health services are qualified, Long Beach should annually obtain and retain copies of contractor personnel lists and the credentials or licenses for personnel who provide mental health services to students in the SELPA.

Agency Response*

The list of providers within our contract agencies (Star View and The Guidance Center) were provided in November of 2016. The lists indicate the names and types of licenses for the service providers.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Completion Date: November 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented

In addition to the list, Long Beach has since provided evidence that it retains copies of the credentials or licenses for the service provider personnel.


Agency Response*

We have gathered this information in list form, but we are seeking copies of the actual credential/license.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: 01/15/17
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Long Beach has satisfied part of our recommendation by obtaining lists from its contractors of the personnel who provide mental health services to students, but it has not yet obtained copies of credentials or licenses for the personnel on those lists.


Agency Response*

The District is awaiting further clarification from CDE regarding how to monitor this process beyond the current regulations. Recent legislation has been proposed by the legislature that would effect this process.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: 12/31/2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


Recommendation #25 To: Mt. Diablo Unified School District

To ensure that it can demonstrate that the contracted personnel who provide mental health services are qualified, Mt. Diablo should annually obtain and retain copies of contractor personnel lists and the credentials or licenses for personnel who provide mental health services to students in the SELPA.

Agency Response*

The District has directed the Fiscal Clerk to audit five files of NPA/NPS monthly to ensure that the credentials and licenses of staff members are current.

This process began in January 2016.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: January 2016
  • Response Date: October 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

We developed a policy which provided direction to the Fiscal Clerk processing the contracts to gather the required credentials and licenses. In addition, no contracts were signed by the Special Education Director unless all licenses and credentials were present.

The policy was also provided to our Fiscal Analyst and Director of Fiscal Operations in order to ensure it's implementation across staff.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: October 2015
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Mt. Diablo's policy discusses a periodic check it will perform to ensure that it is collecting all applicable licenses and credentials. We assess this recommendation as partially implemented and look forward to reviewing how Mt. Diablo implements this policy at its next response.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Recommendation #26 To: Riverside County SELPA

To ensure that it can demonstrate that the contracted personnel who provide mental health services are qualified, Riverside should annually obtain and retain copies of contractor personnel lists and the credentials or licenses for personnel who provide mental health services to students in the SELPA.

Agency Response*

Riverside County SELPA has created a tracking sheet to monitor the credentials, licenses, and staffing changes at non-public schools and residential treatment facilities. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes spreadsheet documenting the following information relevant to the monitoring of credentials, licenses, and staffing: date received, date logged, vendor, employee name, hire date, termination date, position, DOJ clearance, TB clearance, full or part time status, contract status, credential and/or license issuing state, credential and/or license document number, credential and/or license issue date, and credential and/or license expiration date. This spreadsheet will be kept current on a weekly basis. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes the current spreadsheet documenting current status of credentials and licenses of all individuals working at non-public schools and residential treatment facilities that currently service students from RC SELPA LEAs sent under separate cover to bobh@auditor.ca.gov. Additional evidence includes sample correspondence between NPS/RTFs and RC SELPA regarding ongoing staffing changes.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Completion Date: June 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Agency Response*

The SELPA historically relied on the California Department of Education to track licenses and credentials of nonpublic schools and agencies as required under Education Code. We did maintain a spreadsheet and verification of license or credential from https://www.breeze.ca.gov/datamart, www.ctc.ca.gov and/or www.speechandhearing.ca.gov. We instituted a process to collect actual licenses and credentials from the nonpublic schools and agencies, with ongoing notice and monitoring of personnel changes provided to the SELPA as well as to CDE. Evidence includes master contract, NPS Procedures, and monthly staffing update form.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: December 2015
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

Riverside is still in the process of collecting all applicable licenses and credentials from its contracted staff. Therefore, this recommendation is partially implemented.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation

Recommendation #27 To: East Side Union High School District

To ensure that it can demonstrate that the contracted personnel who provide mental health services are qualified, East Side should annually obtain and retain copies of contractor personnel lists and the credentials or licenses for personnel who provide mental health services to students in the LEA.

Agency Response*

Since this issue arose during the audit, we have instituted a process whereby the Administrative Assistant for the department secures copies of the credentials and/or licenses for the individuals who will provide mental health services to students in the LEA upon establishing the contract with the agency. This recommendation has been fully implemented.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Completion Date: January 2016
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Fully Implemented


Recommendation #28 To: Education, Department of

Education should require all LEAs and SELPAs that hold contracts for mental health services to annually obtain and retain copies of contractor personnel lists and the credentials or licenses for contractor personnel who provide mental health services to students in their respective LEA or SELPA.

Agency Response*

Education is adding a monitoring item as part of the Policies and Procedures review, which will be used to verify that LEAs have the required documentation for contractor personnel. The new item will be included as a "high frequency" item. This means that the item would automatically be incorporated into each Policies and Procedures protocol and used for every Comprehensive Review. Education is currently in the process of finalizing the necessary internal approvals for this instrument change.

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2018
  • Response Date: November 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response*

Education is in the process of revising the monitoring instrument to verify LEAs' compliance with the requirement to retain documentation of contractors' qualifications and the services provided.

  • Response Type†: 1-Year
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2017
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented

In its six month response, Education demonstrated that it had notified LEAs that they were required to retain documentation of the qualifications of the licensed or credentialed contractor personnel who provide mental health services to students. This response indicates that Education is still revising its monitoring instrument to verify compliance with that requirement. Accordingly, this recommendation remains partially implemented.


Agency Response*

Corrective Actions Taken: On July 8, 2016, Education sent correspondence to SELPAs and LEAs' clarifying the requirement to maintain records of contractor qualifications. Education is also revising the monitoring instrument to verify LEAs compliance with the requirement to retain documentation of contractors' qualifications and the services provided.

  • Response Type†: 6-Month
  • Estimated Completion Date: November 1, 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Partially Implemented


Agency Response*

Education concurs with this recommendation. Education anticipates providing notification to LEAs on the expected requirement for LEAs to maintain records of contractor qualifications in spring 2016. Education will also revise the monitoring instrument used by the Special Education Division to ensure that LEAs retain documentation of contractors' qualifications and the services provided.

  • Response Type†: 60-Day
  • Estimated Completion Date: June 30, 2016
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of Status: Pending


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.

Agency Response*

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

  • Response Type†: Annual Follow Up
  • Response Date: November 2017

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


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 Type†: 1-Year
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 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.


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 Type†: 6-Month
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 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.


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 Type†: 60-Day
  • Response Date: April 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 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

Response Type refers to the interval in which the auditee is providing the State Auditor with their status in implementing recommendations made in an audit report. Auditees must submit a response regarding their progress in implementing recommendations from our reports at three intervals from the release of the report: 60 days, six months, and one year or subsequent to one year.

*Agency responses received after June 2013 are posted verbatim.


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