Audit Examines School Districts' Use of Mental Health Funding for Students

April 22, 2015

SACRAMENTO – An audit request by Senator Jim Beall to find out how school districts are using mental health funding and whether they are meeting their obligation to provide mental health services to students was approved today by the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.

“Californians need to know whether changes made to the delivery of mental health services at schools are effective,’’ said Beall, who serves as chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Mental Health as well as the Mental Health Caucus. “Overall, about 600,000 children in California have a need for mental health services. Access to services is crucial to a student’s academic performance.’’

In 1986, Assembly Bill 3632 mandated county mental health agencies to provide related mental health services to students. In the 2011 Budget Act, AB 114 eliminated the mandate and designated school districts the responsibility to provide mental health services. Measuring the effectiveness of this transition is at the heart of Beall’s audit request.

“Many families have expressed their concerns to me about their children struggling to receive the necessary services they need,’’ Beall said. “It has been years since the budget implementation and it is time we take a look at the impact the transition made to our school districts and most importantly our students in special education. This audit will give state and local officials an independent review of the finances and operations of the school districts and Special Education Local Plan Areas.’’

The audit will look at services delivered to students who are identified through their individualized education plans as being emotionally disturbed and also for students whose IEP call for mental health services.

The audit will evaluate four Special Education Local Plan Areas, consortiums of school districts in geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all special education service needs of children living in the area. Beall specified that Santa Clara County be one of the plan areas audited.

Joining in Beall’s request were Sens. Ricardo Lara, Carol Liu, Holly Mitchell, Patrick Donnell, Connie Leyva, Fran Pavely, Ben Hueso, and Assemblymember Brian Maienschein; and Senate President Kevin de Leon.