Report 2015-112 Recommendation 6 Responses

Report 2015-112: Student Mental Health Services: Some Students' Services Were Affected by a New State Law, and the State Needs to Analyze Student Outcomes and Track Service Costs (Release Date: January 2016)

Recommendation #6 To: Riverside County SELPA

To better communicate with parents and future IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements, Riverside should develop a process to ensure that IEP teams record these reasons in student IEP documents.

Annual Follow-Up Agency Response From October 2017

RC SELPA's ERMHS Coordinator and ERMHS Case Managers engage in weekly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms anytime a student is being considered for additional services or placement in a more restrictive environment, including but not limited to WRAP services, placement in non-public schools (NPS), and placement in residential treatment centers (RTC). The ERMHS team facilitates pre-meetings prior to a student's IEP to consult and provide guidance to the IEP team regarding interventions and possible placement recommendations. No IEP team decisions are made during these pre-meeting or phone consultations.

Following IEPs that result in changes to services or movement to a more restrictive environment, the ERMHS team conducts a post-IEP consultation to ensure that appropriate procedures were followed and rationale were included in the IEP. In the event such rationale is not adequate and/or the process, including lower levels of intervention, are not followed the ERMHS Coordinator and/or Case Managers contact the LEA directly and request that changes be made in the form of an IEP amendment.

This recommendation has been fully implemented to the extent Riverside County SELPA has direct oversight of our member LEAs. A random audit of student IEPs (done internally) revealed that, "communication with parents and IEP teams about reasons for any changes to student services, including changes to mental health services and student placements" is being clearly documented in the IEP. The 26 member LEAs follow the guidance previously provided by RC SELPA and ensure that rationale for changes to services, including ERMHS, is clearly documented in the IEP.

Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and amendments demonstrating appropriate rationale for individual students being placed in more restrictive environments. Evidence for three students has been sent via an encrypted email.

  • Completion Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of Annual Follow-Up Status: Fully Implemented

Riverside has indicated that it ensures the reasons for changes to student services are documented in IEPs through consultation with IEP teams and following up with the team if necessary. Additionally, it provided examples that demonstrate that student IEPs contain reasons for changes in placement. Accordingly, we assess this recommendation as fully implemented.


1-Year Agency Response

RCSELPA continues to closely monitor the IEP development of all students receiving ERMHS services. All RCSELPA LEA Special Education Directors have agreed to follow the adopted guidance and implement the" ERMHS Needs Review" and "ERMHS Intensive Needs" forms prior to making any changes to the IEP of any student receiving ERMHS. In addition RC SELPA's ERMHS Coordinator, ERMHS Case Managers and Program Specialist engage in monthly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms. The ERMHS team also attends IEP meetings that may include a discussion of potential residential placement. Per the results of the 6-month review additional information was requested pertaining specifically to how RC SELPA provides feedback when the IEP team does not include the required rationale in the IEP prior to making a change in placement. During the monthly monitoring conducted by RC SELPA ERMHS support team, determination is made whether or not the IEP document includes adequate rationale and whether or not the ERMHS Needs Review process has been fully implemented. In the event such rationale is not adequate and/or the process, including lower levels of intervention, are not followed the ERMHS Coordinator and/or Case Managers contact the LEA directly and request that changes be made in the form of an IEP amendment. The RCSELPA ERMHS support team provides feedback regarding alternatives to a more restrictive placement. RCSELPA has continued to host meetings including service providers and administrators from each of our LEAs to provide ongoing training on the ERMHS Needs Review Process and interventions. Ongoing professional learning in this area has been conducted. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and completed ERMHS Needs Review forms, and email communication between RC SELPA ERMHS Case Manager and individual LEA representatives. Evidence for three students has been sent via an encrypted email.

  • Completion Date: September 2016
  • Response Date: January 2017

California State Auditor's Assessment of 1-Year Status: Partially Implemented

In its response, Riverside indicates that we asked it to better support how it provides feedback to IEP teams when the reasons for changes to placement are not noted in the student's IEP document. We specifically noted in our comment on Riverside's six-month response to this recommendation that Riverside had implemented a review process that included a review of whether an IEP includes reasons for a student's placement. However, we observed that Riverside's process did not also note whether the reasons for changes to services were included in the IEP document. Accordingly, we continue to assess Riverside's implementation of this recommendation as only partially implemented. We expected that Riverside would demonstrate in its one-year response how it is checking whether the IEP document includes reasons for service changes. The documents that Riverside submitted in support of this response do not demonstrate that this review is occurring. We look forward to further updates from Riverside as to how it is implementing a review of IEP documents that considers whether the reasons for changes to services are included in these documents.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

6-Month Agency Response

In addition to the adoption and full implementation of "Mental Health in Schools" noted in the 6-week response, Riverside County SELPA (RC SELPA) continues to closely monitor the IEP development of all students receiving educationally related mental health services (ERHMS). All RC SELPA local educational agency (LEA) Special Education Directors have agreed to follow the adopted guidance and implement the" Educationally Related Mental Health Services Needs Review" and "ERMHS Intensive Needs" forms prior to making any changes to the IEP of any student receiving ERMHS. In addition RC SELPA's Mental Health Manager, Mental Health Case Manager, and Program Specialist engage in monthly monitoring and review of all relevant IEPs and required data collection forms. The Mental Health Manager and Case Manager also attend all IEP meetings that may result in a discussion of potential residential treatment facility placement.

In June 2016, RC SELPA Coordinating Council, comprised of 22 special education directors, approved updating the data gathering forms and included them as appendices in the "Mental Health in Schools" document. Special Education Directors will continue to remind service providers that specific rationale for change of placement is to be noted in the Team Summary Notes as well as within the Educational Setting Page of the IEP. Finally, RC SELPA is currently recruiting a second Mental Health Case Manager to support ongoing monthly monitoring. Evidence supporting the full implementation of this item includes copies of student IEPs and completed ERMHS Needs Review and ERMHS Intensive Needs forms (all available upon request).

  • Completion Date: June 2016
  • Response Date: July 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 6-Month Status: Partially Implemented

Riverside has implemented an IEP review process, which it refers to as the ERMHS Needs Review. That review process includes a review of whether a student's IEP includes reasons for a student's placement. It also notes changes to student services. However, it does not note whether the reasons for changes to services were included in the IEP document. To fully implement this recommendation, Riverside's review should include checking whether the IEP document includes reasons for service changes.

  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

60-Day Agency Response

The Riverside County SELPA Adopted "Mental Health in Schools" on December 9, 2011 and approved revisions on February 17, 2012, August 16, 2013; March 13, 2015. It has been fully implemented since we hired SELPA-level mental health case manager, discontinued contract with county mental health, the LEAs hired mental health personnel, and personnel were trained. Evidence includes SELPA guidelines and sample training materials emailed to bobh@auditor.ca.gov.

  • Completion Date: January 2014
  • Response Date: March 2016

California State Auditor's Assessment of 60-Day Status: Pending

Riverside's guidelines and training materials do not directly address the need to document in the student's IEP the reasons why services or placement are changed. Further, Riverside has not yet developed a process to ensure that this documentation is occurring. Therefore, this recommendation is still pending implementation.

  • Auditee did not substantiate its claim of full implementation
  • Auditee did not address all aspects of the recommendation

All Recommendations in 2015-112

Agency responses received are posted verbatim.


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