Poteau Daily News

Addressing student mental health needs

- Rep. Randy Randleman

Last week, Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a bill that I carried in the House to better address the mental health needs of our students. This makes three of my bills this session that have made it through both legislativ­e chambers and were finalized by the Stitt’s signature.

Senate Bill 626, which I worked on with Sen. David Bullard of Durant, allows a student’s parent or guardian to disclose if their child has received inpatient or emergency outpatient mental health services from a mental health facility in the last 24 months.

If this informatio­n is disclosed, certain school personnel will meet with the parents and staff from the mental health facility to determine if any special accommodat­ions are needed for the student. All disclosure­s and subsequent handling of student personal health informatio­n or other related records must comply with the Family Educationa­l

Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and the Health Insurance Portabilit­y and Accountabi­lity Act of 1996.

This law allows teachers and special education directors to address the unique needs of students who have been in a mental health crisis. It helps provide a healthy environmen­t for their success in the classroom.

This measure was strategica­lly organized in both the House and Senate. As a teacher, counselor and psychologi­st, I saw many years ago that this law was needed. Schools may be completely unaware of any mental health concerns their students have experience­d, but SB626 will give schools more flexibilit­y to work with the student and their parents to meet the student’s needs. I know this bill will make a significan­t difference in students’ lives, and I have already heard from multiple teachers and schools praising the bill.

Over the years, I have sat in many meetings in our public schools to work on establishi­ng Individual­ized Education Programs (IEPs) to help students like this succeed. However, it is impossible to write an IEP without knowing the needs of the students. I look forward to this law going into effect on July 1.

As session wraps up, the Legislatur­e sent our budget proposal to Stitt on Friday.

He has until midnight Thursday to sign, veto or line-item veto the budget bills. This will give the Legislatur­e time on Friday to override any vetoes he may have and adjourn sine die as outlined in our state constituti­on.

As always, please reach out with any questions or thoughts you would like to share. You may reach me by telephone at (405) 557-7375 or by e-mail at randy.randleman@okhouse.gov. Thank you for the honor of serving House District 15!

Randleman, a Republican, serves District 15 in the Oklahoma House of Representa­tives, which covers Haskell County and portions of Muskogee, Sequoyah, LeFlore, Pittsburg and McIntosh counties.

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