California’s protection & advocacy system

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March 22, 2011

Due to success of lawsuit, mental health services for California's special education students to continue

An estimated 20,000 special education students can again feel confident that if they undergo a mental health crisis, they will be provided with the critical services required to help them stay in school. On March 22, a coalition of law firms and legal advocacy organizations announced that because new agreements are in place to provide these services, they have voluntarily dismissed their lawsuit (formerly A.C. et al v. Schwarzenegger, then A.C. et al v. Brown) against the Governor.

For the last 25 years, these educationally-related mental health services (known as AB 3632) were available through the joint efforts of county departments of mental health and local school districts. When the former governor vetoed the services in October, 2010, we filed suit together with Public Counsel, Disability Rights Legal Center, Mental Health Advocacy Center and Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher.

For the last several months, this coalition of attorneys has been working with individual counties and school districts all over the state to forge agreements that would cover the services at least though the fiscal year ending September 30, 2011. Although the legal groups will continue to aggressively monitor service delivery statewide, Candis Bowles of Disability Rights California stated: “Our objective of ensuring protection of special education students in need of mental health services has been met.”

Read our press release with details of the case and the resulting memoranda of agreement in a large number of counties to continue services.