Special Education Services

Special Education and AB 3632 Services

School districts in California are required to provide each student with a disability with a free appropriate public education. Free appropriate public education means special education and related services, including mental health services.

How do I request special education services?

To refer your child for special education services, write a letter to the principal of your child's school or the school's district administrative offices. Tell the school district that you are concerned about your child's educational progress and that you are requesting a special education assessment. A form which you can use is attached.

What are the timelines for the assessment and IEP process?

After you have requested a special education assessment, the school district has 15 days (not counting days between regular school sessions or days of school vacation in excess of five school days) to provide parents with a written proposed assessment plan. The assessment plan will identify the types of tests the school district will give your child. You have 15 days to decide if you will consent to the proposed assessment. The assessment cannot begin without your consent.

Starting from the date the school district receives your written consent to assessment, the assessment must be completed and an Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) developed at an IEP meeting within 50 days (not counting days between regular school sessions or days of school vacation in excess of five school days).

All services written in the IEP must begin as soon as possible.

What is an IEP and how is it developed?

An IEP is an Individualized Educational Plan (or Program) which sets forth in writing the educational program for the student. The IEP is developed by a team of people which must include a teacher, a school administrator, and a parent. If the IEP meeting is being held following an assessment, a member of the assessment team must also participate.

The IEP must include: (1) the student's present levels of functioning; (2) a statement of annual goals and measurable objectives designed to achieve these goals; (3) the specific special education services to be provided; (4) the specific related services to be provided including mental health services and the amount of time for each service; (5) the extent to which the student will be able to participate in the regular education program; (6) a description of the type of placement needed to implement the IEP.

How do I obtain mental health services?

Under California law, commonly called AB3632, the County Department of Mental Health is responsible for providing mental health services and residential placement for seriously disturbed students. If you believe that your child needs mental health services, you should request the school district refer your child to the Department of Mental Health for an assessment. The Department of Mental Health must follow the assessment timelines described above. Following this assessment, the IEP team will meet to consider the need for mental health services or residential placement.

What can I do if I disagree with any of the school district's actions?

If you disagree with the school district's assessment, any part of the IEP or any of the services offered or refused by the district, you can request a hearing. To request a hearing, write a letter to the address below and send a copy to your school district.

Special Education Hearing Unit
McGeorge School of Law
3200 Fifth Avenue
Sacramento, CA 95817

If the district fails to assess your child or develop and IEP within the timelines above, you may file a complaint with the State Department of Education. To file a complaint, write to the following address and send a copy to your school district.

Special Education Compliance Unit
State Department of Education
PO Box 94244-2720
Sacramento, CA 94244-2720


Local Los Angeles area:

Protection and Advocacy
221 East Glenoaks, Suite 220
Glendale, CA 91207

A.B. 3632/882 Interagency responsibility for related services

The state legislation uses interagency agreements to maximize use of available funds and facilitate coordination between agencies charged with providing services to people with disabilities. It requires that local education agencies (LEA's) arrange with other specified agencies to provide related services (needed for student to benefit from special education) using an interagency agreement.

State Department of Health Services

  • Education services to students residing in state hospitals/development centers.

California Children's Services

  • Occupational Therapy (OT) assessment
  • OT services
  • Physical Therapy (PT) assessment
  • PT services (medically necessary)

California Medical Assistance Program

  • Life-supporting medical services/nursing services during and to/from school.

State Department of Mental Health

  • Education services to students residing in state hospitals/development centers.

Community Mental Health

  • Mental health assessment
  • Mental health services/psychotherapy
  • Residential placement for students with serious emotional disturbance.

State Department of Rehabilitation

  • Assessment (for secondary students) to determine eligibility for vocational transition services
  • Vocational transition services

State Department of Developmental Services

  • Education services to students residing in state hospitals.

The California Department of Education (CDE) is ultimately responsible through your Local Educational Agency (LEA) school district for ensuring that services are provided, even if another agency actually provided the service. Parent's rights to due process are not altered. This and all state laws must be consistent with the federal law and in no case can it reduce the rights guaranteed under federal statute, such as IDEA.


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