SMMUSD HDQTRS — The school board is pushing back against a line-item veto by Gov. Schwarzenegger that education activists say could greatly harm mental health services for some special education students in school districts here and across California.

The veto stands to eliminate funding the state normally provides for the mental health services required by students who receive individualized education plans to cope with disabilities.

The school board on Monday passed a resolution calling for the funding, which pays for students’ mental health services under a state law known as AB 3632, to be restored.

“It has potentially very grave consequences so we’re hoping to alert our friends in Sacramento and in local government to the problem and hope that folks who care about our schools will join us in advocating for the reinstatement of this funding,” said Ben Allen, the school board’s vice chair.

It’s unclear how many Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District students may be affected by the veto, according to Claudia Landis, chair of the district’s Special Education Advisory Committee, but experts say 20,000 kids statewide benefit from services funded under AB 3632.

Landis said it’s been clear for some time that the state’s contribution to mental health services is under fire, but Schwarzenegger’s veto adds a measure of urgency to efforts already underway to find solutions.

Her committee, she said, is working with the district’s Financial Oversight Committee to look for new ways to deliver mental health services at lower cost.

“Not only does it have a financial impact, it really has a human impact,” Landis said of the veto. “For kids that don’t have medical insurance, this [program] may be the only access to mental health services they have.”

nickt@smdp.com

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