Letters                                                                 Page 4


Reader Reply


Medicaid and Mental Health

Sasha Pudelski’s article “The Tangled Web of Medicaid and Mental Health Services” (August 2013) was right on track and informative.

As she indicates, Medicaid is the most comprehensive source of health care available for those children with the greatest need for emotional, behavioral and mental health services. To support the expansion of services in these areas, Medicaid reimbursement must be more readily accessible to school districts.

The hard work and efforts of AASA in general, and Pudelski in particular, to improve the Medicaid-reimbursement processes is greatly appreciated.

Montevideo Public Schools,
Montevideo, Minn.


Your magazine has chosen an important topic to tackle in “The Schools’ Role in Students’ Mental Health” (August 2013) by Scott LaFee.

One additional reason Medicaid may not reimburse for mental or behavioral health services delivered in schools relates to whether the student has Medicaid coverage. That may have seemed so obvious the author thought it did not need to be stated, but Medicaid will only pay for services for the children and students who are covered by that program.

Medicaid reimbursement to public schools for certain related services is complicated. It requires understanding the federal statutes, regulations and requirements for both special education and Medicaid. To assist administrators and their staff navigate these two worlds, the National Alliance for Medicaid in Education (www.MedicaidForEducation.org) provides a means for professionals to share information, network and disseminate resources and technical assistance.

I hope your publication will keep the dialogue going on this issue.

Specialist for School Based Services,
Office for Special Education,
Michigan Department of Education,
Lansing, Mich.


Re "The Schools' Role in Students' Mental Health" (August 2013) by Scott Lafee:

In our work with state and local education agencies across the country, we have introduced ways to rethink what schools can and can't do about the concerns raised in this article.

School districts are moving in new directions to address barriers to learning and teaching and to re-engage disconnected students. They are developing a unified and comprehensive system of student and learning supports and fully integrating the system into school improvement policies and practices. In the process, they are embedding better and feasible approaches to mental health in schools.

For a detailed illustration of the pioneering breakthrough work under way, see the design for a unified and comprehensive system of learning supports developed by the Alabama Department of Education (http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/pdfdocs/aladesign.pdf). Alabama currently is rolling out this design in a first set of 10 school districts.

We have been working with AASA to let others learn specifics about how districts can make similar innovative systemic changes in addressing barriers to learning and teaching.

For additional details about new directions for student and learning, see our center's website at http://smhp.psych.ucla.edu/summit2002/ninhome.htm.

Any district interested in developing a comprehensive system of learning supports that fully embeds mental health concerns is welcome to contact us.

Center for Mental Health in Schools,
Los Angeles, Calif.

A Second-Chance Academy

What an impressive program described by Daniel King in "A Second Chance Academy for Dropouts" (June 2013). He’s an exceptional leader with a phenomenal record, and he has set the model for neighboring school districts in South Texas with the programs he has implemented to serve all students.

I look forward to meeting Julio, now a senior at our university, who is mentioned in the article as having given up on education until the College, Career & Technology Academy in King’s district was able to lure him back.

Chief of Staff, Office of the President,
The University of Texas-Pan American,
Edinburg, Texas


It was great to read about the turnaround in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo Independent School District.

As a former teacher and administrator for 14 years in Harlingen, Texas, I am familiar with the area and district. Now as a superintendent in a small district in western Minnesota, I was pleased to see his article on the turnaround of the district and the deserved positive, national spotlight.

Wheaton Area Schools,
Wheaton, Minn.

Letters should be addressed to:
School Administrator
1615 Duke St.
Alexandria, VA 22314
Fax: 703-841-1543







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