Supporting New Directors

Laptop showing the New Directors Workshop
Becoming a competent administrator of a SELPA requires constant professional development with those who do the same work, and it can take years before even the strongest special education director feels proficient with the role of SELPA administrator.  To that end, all incoming "New Directors" are part of a routine onboarding during which they are provided a thorough orientation to the organization, the state special education system, and to the role of SELPA Administrators.  Within this group, one develops skills, identifies resources, and creates a network of colleagues they can talk to about specialized topics.  They are also provided mentor peers for their first two years as a director, and usually from a director in a similar SELPA type and demographic, so they can receive more individualized assistance. Support to new directors assists them in the timely and accurate completion of required CDE tasks and other compliance activities.  Each meeting of State SELPA reserves a time spot for New Directors training where they receive detailed information across the variety of priority areas, and they have the opportunity to ask questions in a safe environment.

While there are many specific areas of focus, some examples of the priorities that emerge include information such as:

  • Operation of the organization as a whole
  • Experts to contact within the organization
  • Participation in meetings is critical in staying current
  • Timelines of required reports and advance scheduling toward deadlinesA lot of smiling people in a large meeting room
  • Access to checklists and procedures for completing all fiscal and compliance reports
  • Access to website member portal resources to get answers when a mentor is not available
  • Understanding the operation of CDE, who your consultants are, and when you need to call
  • Learn about the SELPA playbook norms for the organization
  • Knowing your current Local Plan inside and out and how to construct a revised Local Plan
  • How to communicate with your Governing Board or Superintendents Council
  • What to do with the information received at State SELPA and how to keep your Directors Council informed
  • How to work successfully with your parent community and how to build a quality Community Advisory Committee
  • What to do with parent complaints, due process filings, investigations, but most importantly how to be proactive and get to a resolution
  • What to beg, borrow and steal from each other, and knowing it is generally encouraged and acceptable
  • Legal basics of responding to CDE complaints
  • Getting familiar with budget and finance, and the connectedness of funding sources and reporting requirements (grants, MOE, SEMB, etc.)
  • How to use the member listserve for questions and answers
  • Learning about interagency work and various MOUs and agreements to be entered into to ensure a seamless continuum from birth to age 22
  • The variety of governance structures and allocation models and your role and responsibility in maintaining the policies that support them
  • Your regional local meetings with colleagues
  • A brief history on SELPA Committees and work that has been in progress
  • Dates and locations of meetings
  • Information on the most in-demand professional development