January 12, 2021
HELENA- Superintendent of Public Instruction Elsie Arntzen testified in support of HB 25, a bill that clarifies decades-long inequities in educational services provided to children in Montana residential psychiatric treatment facilities. It was incorrectly believed that Medicaid funded the educational services for these students, yet no federal or state payment existed. It is estimated that 100-150 students per year are removed from the traditional school environment and placed for intensive residential psychiatric care, where education must still be delivered to the students at a per-pupil cost of $72.00 per day.
Superintendent Arntzen said: “HB25 rights a wrong that has been allowed to exist for far too long in Montana. Every child has a constitutional right to an equitable education opportunity, and we cannot allow these most at-risk students to fall through the cracks because of payment red tape or unnecessary bureaucracy. As a former legislator and a 23-year educator, it is critical that we fulfill the equity promise to every Montana student.”
Mike Chavers, CEO of Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch: “For years, due to the unintended consequences of a poorly written law, Montana youth receiving Medicaid placed at Montana facilities such Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch and Shodair were barred from receiving funding from the Office of Public Instruction for educational services. Due to Superintendent Arntzen and her team’s commitment to doing what is right, they took the time to listen, investigate and act upon this discriminatory practice, so that all Montana youth have an opportunity to receive quality educational services.”
Craig Aasved, CEO of Shodair Children’s Hospital: “The kids of Montana deserve the best when it comes to quality education, regardless of the environment. It is time to fix this problem for all kids.”
Jim Fitzgerald, CEO of Intermountain: “With the leadership of the OPI and policymakers, I look forward to Montana statutes complying with federal law and our state constitution in providing free and appropriate public education to youth in residential psychiatric settings.”
Please follow here for additional information or to follow HB 25.
Sarah Swanson, 406-444-3160 (office) 406-475-2307(cell) Chief of Staff