M. S. v. LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
"Placement" and Least Restrictive Environment under the IDEA
In June of 2011, several changes in the law occurred related to what agency is responsible for the costs associated with residential placement. On June 30, 2011, Assembly Bill 114 (AB 114) was signed into law. Under AB 114, several sections of what was formerly known as Assembly Bill 3632 (AB3632), were amended or rendered inoperative. This change ended the California mandate on county mental health agencies (DMH) to provide mental health services to special education students as a service within their IEP. With the passage of AB 114, it is clear that local school districts are now solely responsible for providing mental health services to students with special needs. This may include residential care when it is determined necessary for students to benefit from his or her education. Prior to the passage of AB 114, school districts along with DMH would share the costs of placing and maintaining a special education student in residential care. After the passage of AB 114, school districts may contract directly with the residential treatment facility. Another significant difference between the rules AB3632 and AB114 is the prerequisite that a child must qualify for special education services under the criteria of Emotional Disturbance before being placed residentially. Because no such perquisite exits under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and was solely a function created by AB3632, eligibility category is no longer a criteria considered in the decision to place a special education student residentially.