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.
What are the responsibilities of the SELPA?
The SELPA policy-making body is designated in the Local Plan and makes policy decisions, approves the guidelines for other decisions. In addition, there are usually advisory groups that work with the Director and the governing body. The chief administrator of the SELPA is usually called a Director. It is the SELPA’s responsibility to assure programs are available for all students with disabilities, from birth until age 22. The SELPA must see that programs provide any needed services for any student with an exceptional need, and to assist in inter-SELPA placements, provide technical assistance, and administrative support for the many requirements of the new laws and requirements being placed on districts.
The SELPA responsibility is met through a network of cooperative agreements among districts and agencies. The SELPA Office coordinates this network and provides a focal point for the student/family seeking information and services.
SELPA responsibilities include such things as:
- Ensuring programs/services are available for all children with disabilities
- Curriculum/Program Development
- Support Surrogate Parent Training
- Community Advisory Committee Support
- Management Information Systems
- Transition Planning
- Personnel Development
- Budget Planning and Review Evaluation
- Interagency Coordination
- Program Specialists
- Community Awareness
- Program Coordination
The Kern County Superintendent of Schools Office is the Administrative Unit for the Kern County Consortium SELPA. The policy-making body is the Superintendents’ Executive Council (SEC). There are two advisory groups for the SELPA: The Special Education Administrators Committee (SEAC), and the Community Advisory Committee (CAC). The Kern County Consortium SELPA is a multi-district/county office SELPA that serves over 12,000 children identified as having special needs. There are 49 members of the Kern County Consortium SELPA. There are also three other SELPAs located in Kern County that are single-district SELPAs:
Bakersfield City School District
Kern High School District
Sierra Sands Unified School District
Kern County Consortium SELPA personnel include: a) a SELPA Coordinator, b) Program Specialists, and c) Mental Health Staff.
The SELPA Coordinator is responsible for the Program Specialists, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC), and for the data gleaned from each of the 49 LEAs, and collected for CDE twice per year by each SELPA (CASEMIS). He/she is ultimately the person responsible for the online IEP Program that supports this data-collection as well; the program in Kern County is known as SIRAS and is operated by an outside vendor working closely with SELPA staff. The SELPA Coordinator participates in the Alternative Dispute Resolution process for the entire SELPA and is a trainer and support for districts when Program Specialists are not available.
The SELPA Program Specialists are designated to assist in curriculum development, resource identification, teacher/staff/parent support and professional development. The Program Specialists are selected as experts in their field and for their ability to share this information with others. They are not administrators. They act as a resource to the school personnel in developing an appropriate program for students. They provide training and inservice to the personnel and agencies that will lead to improved curricular and program services for the students with disabilities throughout the SELPA. Districts can request specific assistance using the Request for Program Specialist Support form.
The SELPA Mental Health staff is comprised of a Behavior Health Coordinator, Mental Health Supervisors, Mental Health Clinicians and support staff. This cadre of people are all trained Mental Health professionals and are all either fully-licensed or are interns working toward their final licensure; the latter group is closely supervised while they complete their training and testing needed to receive their licensure. They proved the Educationally-Related Mental Health Services (ERMHS).