Faculty Publications

Securing School-Based Mental Health Services Through A Six-Step IEP Approach

Document Type


Journal/Book/Conference Title

Teaching Exceptional Children


This manuscript offers an approach to secure needed SBMHS for students with disabilities through unique applications within the IEP development process, informed by an analysis of recent case law. We will discuss six components of this approach. First, the need for SBMHS must be established through evaluation data. Data sources to confirm the need for services include record review, interview, observation, and testing. Second, the evaluation data must be presented in the Present Level of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) section of the IEP. This section will also describe how a child’s educational performance is adversely affected by mental health issues. Third, annual goals must be developed for areas adversely affected by a child’s mental health status. The goals must be measurable and include performance targets established by criteria and matched to the baseline data and skills targets for intervention. Fourth, the specially-designed instruction (SDI) and related service intervention (RSI) must be planned for each goal area. The SDI must specify the methodology and strategies to be provided to address the child’s mental health needs. The RSI must explicitly describe the nature of the strategies or approaches planned. Fifth, progress monitoring plans must be described, including the metrics matched to baseline data and the goal, a timetable, and reporting options. Sixth, and importantly, the IEP SBMHS must be implemented as planned and revised if progress toward the goals is not satisfactory. One unique contribution of this IEP approach to securing needed SBMHS is the integration of recent case law to illustrate how courts relied on specification of the six components in confirming the need for SMBHS. A second contribution is providing specific examples of IEP statements for the six components when mental health needs must be addressed.


Department of Educational Psychology, Foundations, and Leadership Studies


Department of Special Education

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version