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L.A. County supervisors call for better mental health evaluations of students

January 18, 2011 |  5:01 pm

Los Angeles County Supervisors voted Tuesday to develop a plan to step up identification of students who show signs of mental health problems that could pose a public safety concern.

The proposal by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky cited a case uncovered last week at Cal State Northridge. In that incident, a student was charged with possession of explosive materials and a firearm that authorities said were found in his dorm room after he allegedly threatened staff and students.

The supervisors asked staff to report back in two months on how best to expand a program -- the School Threat Assessment Response Team -- involving Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health workers and Los Angeles police. Since its inception in 2008, the team has responded to approximately 250 incidents at elementary, middle and high schools, and colleges.

Although supervisors acknowledged that it was too early to know if the shooting Tuesday at Gardena High School involved mental health issues, they said it might prove to be further reason for the increased vigilance.

“This kind of shocking occurrence proves that we must do everything in our power to eradicate the roots and causes of violence on our campuses,” Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas said. “I strongly encourage the rapid response to the motion before us.”


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-- Garrett Therolf at the L.A. County Hall of Administration