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October 26, 2010

Counties, disability right advocates heading to court on AB 3632 Veto

Counties and disability rights advocates are moving forward with separate court filings stemming from Governor Schwarzenegger’s veto of funding for the AB 3632 mandate.

When the Governor signed the budget he vetoed $133 million for mental health services for special education students, also known as AB 3632, and declared the AB 3632 mandate suspended.

At least 10 counties plan to seek a court order declaring the AB 3632 mandate suspended. Other counties will consider joining the effort in the coming weeks. The counties will file in state court in the near future.

Last week, disability rights advocates filed a class action suit in federal court alleging that the Governor’s veto of the AB 3632 funding violates both the Americans with Disabilities Act and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

The suit was brought by the Public Counsel Law Center, Disability Rights California, Mental Health Advocacy Services and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. The named defendants are the Governor, the California Department of Education, the California Department of Mental Health, the California Health and Human Services Agency, the Los Angeles and Torrance unified school districts, and the Los Angeles County Mental Health Department. The plaintiffs have asked for a temporary restraining order to require counties to continue providing and paying for services while the case is being heard.

For the last 25 years, California counties have been responsible for providing and paying for mental health services for special education students per AB 3632. The program serves approximately 20,000 youth, who receive case and medication management services, counseling, and some residential placement services. Under federal law, California must ensure these services are provided for special education students. School districts were responsible for providing mental health services for special education students prior to the passage of AB 3632.

CSAC will keep you updated as further actions occur.