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California Healthline

November 10, 2010

Education Groups File Lawsuit Over Mental Health Care Cuts

On Tuesday, several education advocates filed a lawsuit against Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) recent veto of mental health services funding for special education students, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports (Yamamura, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/9).

Last month, mental health and disability rights advocates filed a class-action lawsuit against the cuts to student mental health services (California Healthline, 10/25).

Background

When the governor signed the state budget package last month, he used line-item vetoes to cut $133 million intended to pay counties for providing mental health services to about 20,000 special education students.

Schwarzenegger also suspended a state mandate requiring counties to provide student mental health services ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/9).

Federal law requires mental health services to be available for students who need them. Therefore, the governor's cuts could shift responsibility for such services from counties to local school districts (California Healthline, 11/1).

Lawsuit Details

In the lawsuit, the California School Boards Association, Los Angeles Unified School District and Manhattan Beach Unified School District argued that Schwarzenegger lacked the authority to suspend the state mandate requiring counties to provide student mental health services.

The advocates said that Schwarzenegger's veto has spurred several counties to reject new referrals for mental health services from school districts ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/9).

Administration Stance

In response to the earlier lawsuit filed by mental health and disability rights advocates, Schwarzenegger's office said the line-item vetoes were necessary and legal.

His administration has not said whether the mental health services now will be funded by school districts or other entities (California Healthline, 10/25).