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What is a SELPA?

SELPA stands for Special Education Local Plan Area. In 1977, Assembly Bill 1250 required all school districts and county offices to form geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all special education services of children residing within the region boundaries.  Each SELPA developed a local plan describing how it would provide special education services. 

Today, there are over 135 SELPAs in the State.  The SELPA governance structures vary in form, including models for Multi-District SELPAs, Multi-District/County Office SELPAs, Single District SELPAs, Multi-District/Multi-County SELPAs, County SELPAs with Joint Powers agreements, and Charter only SELPAs.  Size and scope also vary across the state ranging in size from those serving fewer than 1,000 students to those serving more than 10,000 students.

Even though there are many organizational structures for a SELPA, all SELPAs have the same basic goal: to deliver high quality special education programs and services to the students with disabilities in the most effective, efficient, and cost effective manner practicable.

The SELPA and member local education agencies (LEAs or school districts) foster coordination between general and special education for prevention and early intervention of suspected disabilities.  The SELPA also ensures appropriate education services for individuals with disabilities by working cooperatively with other public and private agencies to support a full complement of special education services for students.  Each SELPA must have an Administrative Unit (also known as the Responsible Local Agency), which serves as the legal entity that receives funds.  In some instances, the Administrative Unit is a school district and in other instances it is the county office of education.

Costs for SELPA operations and the Administrative Unit are provided by funding from the state, which may be augmented by local and/or federal funds.  Each region determines the funds available for regionalized services and the responsibilities of the SELPA office.  The SELPA policy-making body is designated in the Local Plan to make policy decisions, approve the SELPA budget and Allocation Plan, and direct SELPA operations.  Responsibilities of the SELPA include such things as:

  • Ensuring Program Availability for all Children with Disabilities
  • Governance Committees, including Community Advisory Committee (CAC)
  • Assistance with understanding compliance requirements
  • Transition Planning
  • Program Coordination
  • Fiscal Management
  • Staff Development 
  • Curriculum Development and Support
  • Management Information System (CALPADS) Reporting to the State
  • Regionalized Services and Program Specialists
  • Interagency Coordination
  • Program Evaluation
  • Budget Planning and Review
  • Community Awareness
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution