Friday, June 28, 2002

State of Hawaii

Schools neglect mental
health, audit says

A report cites a lack of resources,
personnel and quality control

Associated Press

The state Department of Education has not ensured the efficient and effective delivery of mental health services for some 9,000 public school students who have or may develop behavior problems, the state auditor reported yesterday.

"The program has deficiencies in the areas of personnel, management information systems, procurement and quality assurance," according to state Auditor Marion Higa.

"The department had identified these concerns prior to the implementation of the program but proceeded anyway," Higa said.

The school-based program launched July 1, 2001, offers prevention, early intervention and intensive services closely tied to educational activities for students who previously received outpatient services through the Department of Health's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Division.

It focuses on behaviors that impair a student's ability to learn instead of the clinical diagnosis and treatment. Patricia Hamamoto said the audit "failed to comment on the recognizable widespread positive impact of the program," including parent satisfaction.

The report also fails to report that corrective actions were already under way before the audit began, she said.

Problem areas pointed out in Higa's report include employees receiving significantly higher salaries than others doing the same job, a long-delayed management information system for special education, hiring contractors about whom department evaluators expressed concern, and failure by the department to accurately account for the cost of its program.

State Department of Education

E-mail to City Desk


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