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What is a SELPA?

​​In 1977, all school districts and county school offices in California were required to form geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all special education service needs of children residing within the region's boundaries.  Each region became known as a Special Education Local Plan Area - SELPA.

Today, there are over 130 SELPAs in the s​tate.  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 varies across the state.  Each SELPA has a Local Plan describing how it provides special education services.  Specific components to be included in the Local Plan are delineated in the Education Code.​​​​

The SELPA and member local education agencies (LEAs) 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.

Costs for SELPA operations and the Administrative Unit are provided by funding from the state, which may be augmented by local, federal, and state 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.  SELPA responsibilities include such things as:

  • ​Ensuring program availability for all children with disabilities
  • Governance committees, including Community Advisory Committee (CAC)
  • Community awareness
  • Assistance with understanding compliance requirements
  • Data reporting to the state
  • Transition planning
  • Program coordination
  • Program evaluation​
  • Regionalized services and program specialists
  • Interagency coordination
  • Staff development
  • Curriculum development and support​
  • Fiscal management
  • Budget planning and review