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What is SELPA?

Special Education Local Plan Area

In 1977, all school districts and county school offices were mandated to form consortiums in geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all special education service needs of children residing within the region boundaries. Each region, Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA), developed a local plan describing how it would provide special education services.

SELPAs are dedicated to the belief that all students can learn and that special needs students must be guaranteed equal opportunity to become contributing members of society. SELPAs facilitate high quality educational programs and services for special needs students and training for parents and educators. The SELPA collaborates with county agencies and school districts to develop and maintain healthy and enriching environments in which special needs students and families can live and succeed.

Legal Background

The Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (PL 93-112), amended in 1992, includes Section 504, which affirms the right of any student or adult who has a mental or physical impairment which inhibits a major life activity including learning; has a history of such an impairment; or is considered by a team of knowledgeable individuals to have such an impairment, from being discriminated against program or activity receiving federal financial assistance. This Act also requires that students be given a free appropriate public education in regular education classes, with necessary supplementary aids and services, if they are determined by a school team to be disabled under Section 504 or the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Such eligibility may exist without concurrent eligibility for special education under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

The Rehabilitation Act was followed in 1975 by the passage of PL 94-142, the Education of Handicapped Act, which was changed in 1990 to the IDEA. This is the legislation that provides that all students who are eligible for special education must be provided with a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment. The California Legislature implements the provisions of IDEA through the California Master Plan for Special Education. This plan was first implemented statewide in 1980 with the passage of Senate Bill 1870. Some of the major areas covered by state and federal laws are the following:

Child Find – Each public school system is responsible to find children with disabilities in its area
Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) – Each public school system is responsible for ensuring that each child with disabilities is served appropriately, at no expense to the parent
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) – Each child is assured of his/her right of education with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of both
Due Process – The right of parent participation, and challenge, in all aspects of assessment, identification and placement is assured; involves mediation or administrative hearing procedures and complaint procedure in case of disputes
Individualized Educational Planning (IEP) – The right of a child to an educational program designed to meet his/her individual needs and based on adequate assessment is assured. At age 14 to 16 this includes the development of an Individual Transition Plan (ITP) to provide for transition into the world of work.