What is a SELPA?

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The acronym "SELPA" stands for Special Education Local Plan Area.

In 1974, the California State Board of Education adopted the California Master Plan for Special Education. This statewide plan to equalize educational opportunities outlined the process of developing a quality educational program for the disabled students of California.

The Master Plan required that all school districts and County Offices of Education (referred to as Local Educational Agencies, or LEAs) join together in geographical regions in order to develop a regional special education service delivery system. A region might be a group of many small districts or a large single district, but each region must be of sufficient size and scope to provide the full continuum of services for children and youth residing within the region boundaries.

The service regions were named Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs). There are now approximately 135 SELPAs carrying out the spirit and mandate of the California Master Plan for Special Education.

To become a member of a SELPA, the applying charter organization must apply for membership in that SELPA and be deemed by that SELPA a Local Education Agency (LEA) for purposes of special education. This process requires the charter school to demonstrate its ability to serve the full continuum of special education services, as well as assume the full liability for students served in the charter school. While charter schools can apply to become an LEA in their local SELPA or in a charter SELPA, the power to grant membership lies solely with the SELPA itself. If membership is not granted, the charter will not become a member of the SELPA.

Of the 135 SELPAs in California, there are only a few that currently accept charter schools as LEA members. SELPAs accepting applications from charter schools for the 2016-2017 school year include: the El Dorado County Office of Education Charter SELPA, the Los Angeles County Charter SELPA, the Sonoma County Charter SELPA, and the Desert Mountain Charter SELPA. CCSA is actively working with SELPAs across the state to increase the options available to charter schools seeking LEA status for special education.

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