Bill to better assist students with mental health issues filed

Mike Seals - January 27, 2021 10:57 am

OKLAHOMA CITY – Sen. David Bullard, R-Durant, and Rep. Randy Randleman, R-Eufaula, have filed legislation to better inform schools of mental health services students have received, so they can best serve the special needs of those youth. Senate Bill 626 would require parents or legal guardians at least five days prior to enrolling in or transferring to a school district to disclose whether their student has received mental health services from a mental health facility in the previous year.

“One of the biggest challenges for both schools and students is the first day of school or returning back to campus. For a student struggling with mental diseases or issues, it is even harder. The bill I’m proposing has been vetted with child psychologists, teachers and administrators to make school reentry as smooth and stress-free for everyone on campus, including the returning student, teachers, administrators and other students,” Bullard said. “In this bill, we’re attempting to give schools the necessary information to help in that transition as well as to connect mental health facilities and schools, so they can create a plan for a successful reentry into the classroom. All privacy laws will be followed, and that information will remain private to maintain the dignity of both the child and teachers.  The goal is to give schools and parents one more tool to help make their students more successful.”

The bill requires designated school personnel to meet with the student’s parent/guardian and representatives from the mental health facility within ten days of the disclosure to determine if the student needs any special accommodations. It directs the required disclosure and subsequent handling of personal health information and related student records to comply with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

“This bill will help our public schools prepare for students who have severe mental health issues by requiring a parent to report to the school any severe or multiple adverse childhood events that have been treated through professional intervention,” Randleman said. “This bill does two things—protects the students and sets them up for success; and second, it lets the school prepare the necessary programs and/or interventions before those students start in the school.”

SB 626 will be up for consideration once the legislative session gets underway on February 1.


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