California began to take positive steps toward addressing the impacts of dyslexia in our schools with the passage of Assembly Bill 1369 in 2015 law (Assemblyman Jim Frazier, D-Oakley) and with the 2017 Development of the Dyslexia Guidelines, a 132-page document, which while not mandatory, is the result of years of lobbying by parents who watched their children agonize over learning to read. The guidelines provide an opportunity for proactive work to help our kids, rather than the typically reactive modes of assistance we often employ. “The devil is in the details — now we need to look at how we convert [the Guidelines] into practical and implementable practice in our public schools,” said Meyer of Decoding Dyslexia California.
What is dyslexia?
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.
What are the rights of a person with dyslexia?
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act 2004 (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) define the rights of students with dyslexia and other specific learning disabilities. These individuals are legally entitled to special services to help them overcome and accommodate their learning problems. Such services include education programs designed to meet the needs of these students. The Acts also protect people with dyslexia against unfair and illegal discrimination.
This is an opportunity for all Districts to serve kids better, ideally in general education with some supports and accommodations.
Has your district taken action to implement any portion of the State's Dyslexia Guidelines?
Are kindergartners being screened?
Are new strategies to meet the needs of dyslexic kids being utilized?
"The current SELPA funding model is based on California legislation passed in 1997 (AB 602) that implemented a “census-based” special education funding structure. The formula allocates funding based on a SELPA’s total average daily attendance (ADA), with the remainder distributed based on specific circumstances, rather than on the number of students identified to receive special education services." See https://www.schoolhealthcenters.org/start-up-and-operations/funding/mental-health/selpa/
*Special Education Funding is supplemental to the funding allocated to every student under the State funding model.
About SELPA's - https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/as/caselpas.asp
San Mateo County's Summary of Special Education Funding in 2018-2019:
In the face of a well-documented, Statewide teacher shortage trend, we must do everything we can to support our current teachers and to build a strong base of new teachers.
Current actions include grants for teacher training programs, teacher housing initiatives by independent Districts, partnering with local universities for certification support and professional development, and more.
As a County, our entire education system depends on our teaching professionals, current and developing. Countywide collaboration on certification & housing efforts, and of course, continued and fierce advocacy for increased State funding and professional incentives for our teachers must be a priority.
Funding of California's K-12 schools is complex. A history of our State's funding mechanisms can be found at: https://www.ppic.org/publication/financing-californias-public-schools/
While $103.4 Billion is a substantial number, California's funding per student, as of 2019, sits at 41st in the Nation.
In his State of the State Address on January 12, 2019, Governor Gavin Newsom said, “Seven years ago, we invested $47.3 billion in our schools. Next year, with your support, we’ll invest more than $80 billion — that includes $576 million for special education,” . . . “But it’s not enough. We’re still 41st in the nation in per pupil funding. Something needs to change. We need to have an honest conversation about how we fund our schools at a state and local level.” See https://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article226179020.html
There has been attention in our County to the importance of elementary school reading proficiency in long-term educational achievement through initiatives such as the BIG/LIFT, spearheaded by former Superintendent Anne Campbell of the San Mateo County Office of Education and Supervisor Carole Groom. San Mateo County Board of Supervisors in 2012. There has been some progress, but as this issue highlights our "opportunity gap," this initiative (and potentially others) will be essential to continue and to develop.
There are many statistics showing that poverty is correlated with reduced academic achievement, including the data that drives the San Mateo County Office of Education and San Mateo County Health's BIG/LIFT initiative to increase 3rd Grade reading levels.
This is the "Opportunity Gap" that leads to our students' "Achievement Gap" and it deserves our ongoing attention toward solutions that will lead to improved academic and life success of all students in San Mateo County.
In 1984, Assembly Bill 3632 statutorily required a partnership between school districts and county mental health agencies to deliver mental health services to students with individualized education programs (IEPs).
In 2011, the California Legislature passed Assembly Bill 114, which repealed the state mandate on special education and county mental health agencies and eliminated related references to mental health services in California statute. As a result of this new legislation, school districts are solely responsible for ensuring that students with disabilities receive special education and related services to meet their needs according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004.
Given this recent change to state laws, the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) below are offered to provide students, parents, educators, and other stakeholders with information about services for students with disabilities that were formerly provided by county mental health agencies.
My student’s current IEP lists mental health services (“AB 3632” services). Do these services end on July 1, 2011?
No. School districts are responsible for ensuring that students continue to receive their services as documented in their IEPs. The provision of any service does not end until an IEP Team determines that the student no longer requires the service. The IEP must then be amended with the consent of the parent, guardian, or other holder of the student’s educational rights. During the 2011-12 school year, your child’s IEP should be changed to delete references to AB 3632 given the change in statute; however, your child’s new IEP should continue to reflect needed services.
My student does not currently have mental health services in his/her IEP, but he/she needs such services.
What do I do?
According to state and federal laws and regulations, students must be assessed in all areas related to their suspected disabilities. You may therefore request that your school district assess your student to determine the services that your child may require. Be sure to put this request in writing and save a copy. The school district must respond to your request in 15 days. For more information, contact the Special Education Office in your school district.
May services be denied, changed, or limited due to changes in funding?
No. Federal law says that districts must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities identified according to the IDEA. The services noted in your student’s IEP must be provided without regard to changes in funding.
Does the county mental health agency have a role in providing any of the services listed in my student’s IEP?
What is the role of the school district in determining this role?
The school district is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all students receive the services noted in their IEPs. Some school districts may contract with county mental health agencies for the provision of some services. Districts may also hire their own professionals, contract with organizations or professionals in the community, or use a combination of approaches to ensure services continue.
I had a compliance complaint about 3632 services that was opened in fiscal year 2010-11 where corrective actions were prescribed. What is the status of my complaint?
California Department of Education (CDE), Special Education Division (SED), staff will continue to monitor corrective actions resulting from complaints opened in fiscal year 2010-11. According to federal law, the investigator has 60 days to complete the investigation itself and mail the resultant report with findings to the complainant and the district. Corrective actions will be monitored according to the timeline or schedule for completion that is included in the report.
I have a complaint in due process that was opened in fiscal year 2010-11, but a decision has not yet been rendered. What is the status of my due process hearing?
If you have a complaint in due process, you should contact the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH). Please see telephone number and Web site links at the end of this document.
What if I have a new complaint related to the mental health services that my student receives?
Contact the special education office of your local school district to discuss the issues. You may also need to convene your student’s IEP Team and discuss your concerns during an IEP Team meeting. If your complaints are not resolved, you may file a request for investigation through the CDE, SED, Procedural Safeguards Referral Service (PSRS) unit. If you and the school district disagree about the services your student receives, you may also request mediation or due process hearings through OAH (see telephone numbers and Web site links listed at the end of this document).
My student is currently placed in a residential facility. Will my student be able to continue in that placement?
Decisions regarding continuation of placement, or change in placement, are made by your student’s IEP Team.
Should services that address mental health needs be included in the IEP and not in a separate document?
Yes. The services that the IEP Team determines the student needs should be included within the IEP itself.
If I disagree with the results of an assessment obtained by my school district, what should I do?
A parent has the right to an independent educational evaluation (IEE) at public expense if the parent disagrees with an evaluation obtained by the school district, subject to the following conditions. If a parent requests an IEE at public expense, the school district must, without unnecessary delay, either file a due process complaint to show that its evaluation is appropriate, or ensure that an IEE is provided at public expense, unless the school district demonstrates in a due process hearing that the IEE obtained by the parent did not meet agency criteria. If the school district files a due process complaint to request a hearing and the final decision is that the school district’s evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an IEE, but not at public expense.
What is Wraparound?
Wraparound is not a specific service, but rather a planning process yielding a “Wraparound Plan” containing services, as needed, to support children and their families. Wraparound is administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and is defined as:
A planning process that values the engagement of the child and his/her family in a manner that shifts from a problem focused view of issues to building on individual strengths to improve family and child well-being. The process is used to engage the family as they identify their own needs and create methods and a plan to meet those needs. The goal is to provide intensive, individualized services and supports to families that will allow children to live and grow up in a safe, stable, permanent family environment.
It should be noted that neither the IDEA nor California Education Code require school districts to provide Wraparound planning as a related service on a student’s IEP.
The following links are from outside sources and provide reference information for different county-based Wraparound programs:
- National Wraparound Initiative :
- Child Welfare Mental Health Services Division (CWMHSD) of Los Angeles County
- Santa Clara County Wraparound Service Program
- EMQ Families First, Wraparound Services
Where can I find more information about Wraparound?
The program is administered by the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) through county agencies. The following links provide further information and are located on the CDSS Web page :
Who is authorized to provide Wraparound?
The CDSS authorizes providers through county programs and keeps a list of County Wraparound Coordinators and their agencies. Please visit the CDSS Web site (CA County Wraparound) for more information.
Are schools required to provide Wraparound?
No, schools are not required to provide Wraparound planning. School districts are required to provide a free and appropriate public education by providing special education and related services through an individualized education program. Please refer to the California Department of Education guidance letter of September 15, 2011, for more information on related services.
As a parent of a special needs child, can I request that the district provide Wraparound as a related service on the IEP?
As a member of your child’s IEP Team, you can request that the IEP Team consider including particular services in the IEP. Please keep in mind that:
- Wraparound is not a specific service, rather it is a planning process that leads to the creation of a wraparound plan.
- Related services support student goals, which support student needs, as identified through the IEP assessment process.
- The local educational agency is responsible for offering, through the IEP process, special education and related services designed to meet the child’s unique needs.
Which offices do I contact for additional assistance and information?
Start by calling your school district special education office and your special education local plan area (SELPA). You may also contact the following offices:
- CDE, SED, PSRS help line by phone at 800-926-0648; or by e-mail at email@example.com
- Office of Administrative Hearings, Special Education Division by phone at 916-263-0880
- One of the local California Parent Organizations
For additional information on California special education, please visit our Web site, and follow the links to special education.
In 2017, the percentage of special education students (with IEP's) in all schools in San Mateo County was 11.72%, and the percentage of students who qualified as English language learners was 23% (See 2017 SMCOE Annual Report).
The percentage of the 274 students who were served by the San Mateo County Office of Education's Juvenile Court and Community Schools during the 2018-19 school year (as of May 1, 2019) in special education students (with IEP's) was 39% - more than 300% the average number of special education students countywide, and the percentage of students who were English language learners was 60% - more than 200% the average number of English language learner students countywide.
*State data shows that students with disabilities (special education students) are TWICE as likely to be suspended and expelled from their Districts.
I believe that we should be looking at the root causes for this overrepresentation for expelled and incarcerated youth, such as the biases underlying these data sets, whether we're failing to meet the underlying needs of students which may then result in "behaviors" we punish, potential alternatives to our primarily reactive and rigid school discipline systems & other factors that may help us to address this very clear connection to the well-documented "school-to-prison pipeline" for minority students and students with disabilities.
There are currently no available psychiatric emergency beds for children in San Mateo County. There are some for adolescents, but if you're younger than 12, there are none.
Children do have psychiatric disability (aka mental health) diagnoses in our County and if and when there is a need to call 911 or visit an ER in a crisis situation, if the child needs to be hospitalized (usually pursuant to a 5150), the child is typically transported by ambulance to another County's facility when a bed opens up in these out-of-county hospitals... in Fremont, Sacramento, Vallejo and a couple of other locations.
A visit to the ER, while often necessary for safety, is traumatic for a child, and he or she is often re-traumatized by the transport to another facility, sometimes more than a day after arriving at the ER, alone in an ambulance, to then await parent visits during hospital "visiting hours," which are fairly restrictive in psychiatric wards.
*Supporting kids with these types of disabilities is an education issue because these children are often students in our public schools who often have IEPs, 504 Plans or Educationally Related Mental Health Services [ERHMS] in place, or should have in place. ERMHS are the sole responsibility of school districts since 2011 under AB 114.
The lack of child psychiatric facilities in San Mateo County has been raised for a number of years by the San Mateo County Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) Commission, under their oversight of Mental Health Service Act (MHSA) funds to implement programs and provide facilities in our County. The gap remains today, but I am hopeful that this issue can be prioritized soon, as health & education advocates continue to work together to ensure that adequate and appropriate mental health supports are available for kids in our County.
This is certainly one of my goals for collaboration and impact if I am elected to the San Mateo County Board of Education in 2020.
In the meantime, I am working to bring awareness of these needs as a member of the San Mateo County Commission on Disabilities (CoD), as Co-Chair of the CoD's Youth & Family Committee, as the CoD's liaison to the BHRS Commission, and as a parent of a child with a mental health disability who has been subject to the implications of our County's gap in facilities and services.
There is a lot to know about education in San Mateo County. Many of the of statistics are surprising, but we need to know what's going on if we want to make real change... Day One... more to come.
San Mateo County Office of Education, 2017 Report to the Community, page 30