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Wednesday, April 20, 2016

State of California not tracking mental health services for special ed students, Report Findings

Already, the California Department of Education has said it doesn’t want to do it and doesn’t need to do it. But for the second time this year, a strongly worded report has called for the department to keep track of the$400 million a year that school districts are supposed to spend on mental health services for special education students and produce an annual report on their outcomes.

article By Jane Meredith Adams for EdSource | April 18, 2016

“The California Department of Education has completely abdicated any responsibility for monitoring or oversight of this program,” said Antionette Dozier, senior attorney at the Western Center on Law & Poverty, a Los Angeles-based statewide advocacy group that co-authored the report. As a result, she said, hundreds of thousands of students are not getting the mental health care they need, resulting in distress, poor academic performance and in some cases, referrals into the juvenile justice system.

The report, “Failing Grade: How California’s School Districts Have Abandoned Children with Disabilities,” was released Monday by the Western Center on Law & Poverty, the Los Angeles-based Learning Rights Law Center and the Los Angeles-based nonprofit group Mental Health Advocacy Services.

The California Department of Education did not respond to a request for a comment. But the department did respond to a January report from the California state auditor that similarly recommended the department produce an annual report on the kinds and costs of mental health services that districts provide to students in special education. The report should include how those students fared on a number of academic and social measures, the auditor stated.

In response to the auditor’s recommendation, Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction,wrote, “Education does not and is not required by state or federal law to calculate performance and/or outcome measures for any particular subgroup of special education students.” He said that if the Legislature required the California Department of Education to compile additional reports, it would need additional staff and funding.

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