Understanding the Local Plan 


The "LP" in "SELPA" stands for "Local Plan."  SELPAs are required to develop and implement a comprehensive local plan containing assurances that it has in effect policies, procedures, and programs governing access to special education and services for all SWD residing within the geographic areas served by each plan. Elements of the local plan include the provision of a FAPE in the LRE, child find and referral, procedural safeguards, participation in statewide assessments, staff development programs, local administration, coordination with other public and private agencies, and management of fiscal responsibilities. The requirement for SELPAs to implement elements of its local plan as codified in California Education Code (EC) Section 56195 states, “Each SELPA, as defined in subdivision (d) of EC Section 56195.1, shall administer local plans submitted pursuant to Chapter 3 (commencing with EC Section 56205) and shall administer the allocation of funds pursuant to Chapter 7.2 (commencing with EC Section 56836).”  [Source:  CDE Executive Office Memo to State Board of Education, March 27, 2019]Sample Local Plan snapshot, click to open sample

The California Department of Education (CDE) recently adopted new templates for the SELPA Local Plan,  Each Local Plan's Governance Section is prepared through local committee work and adopted by the SELPA Governing Board, as well as the governing board of each of its Local Education Agencies (LEAs) on a three-year approval cycle with the CDE.  The Budget Plan, Service Plan, and Certifications sections of the Local Plan are prepared and adopted by the SELPA Governing Board, and the governing board of each of its Local Education Agencies (LEAs) on an annual basis.  Local Plans often incorporate numerous references to other documents including SELPA local policies, interagency agreements, and locally developed procedural manuals.  To see a sample of a completed Local Plan, click on the image at the right.

Changes to a Local Plan

Under EC Section 56100(b), the SBE must adopt criteria and procedures for the review and approval of special education local plans. In 1983, the SBE approved a size and scope policy for single LEAs, multi-LEA, or LEA-county regions seeking to become SELPAs. In 2000, approval of SELPA local plans submitted by single LEAs, multi-LEAs, or LEA-county regions that satisfy the SBE’s size and scope policy was delegated to the SSPI. This delegation is still in place, and the CDE Special Education Division reviews local plans on a yearly basis.

In order to restructure a SELPA, certain criteria must be met or waived. For an LEA seeking to become a SELPA under 56195.1(a), the LEA must satisfy the SBE’s size and scope policy requirements. In addition to size and scope, LEAs must adhere to the local plan changes regarding notification timelines and requirements which are codified in EC Section 56195.3:

In developing a local plan under Section 56195.1, each LEA must do the following:

  1. Involve special and general education teachers selected by their peers and parents selected by their peers in an active role.
  2. Cooperate with the county office and other LEAs in the geographic areas in planning its option under Section 56195.1 and each fiscal year, notify the department, impacted special education local plan areas, and participating county offices of its intent to elect an alternative option from those specified in Section 56195.1, at least one year before the proposed effective date of the implementation of the alternative plan.
  3. Cooperate with the county office to assure that the local plan is compatible with other local plans in the county, including the local control and accountability plans adopted for the district and the county board of education, and any county plan of a contiguous county.
  4. Submit to the county office for review any local plan developed under subdivision (a) or (b) of Section 56195.1.

Further, a COE’s responsibility to approve or disapprove any proposed local plan submitted by an LEA or group of LEAs with the county or counties elect is codified in EC Section 56140. If disapproved, the COE is required to make comments and recommendations to the LEA submitting the proposed local plan. If the local plan is disapproved by the COE, the LEA may immediately appeal the decision to the SSPI to overrule the COE’s disapproval. Approval is based on the capacity of the LEA to ensure special education programs and services are provided to all SWD, and whether the local plan adheres to the guidelines and required components established pursuant to EC sections 56122 and 56205.

Once approved by the COE (or upon appeal to the SSPI of a COE denial), the LEA must submit a local plan to the CDE for approval or denial. The CDE reviews local plans using the SBE approved criteria of size and scope, notification timelines, and completion of local plan components and approves or denies a local plan. If a local plan is denied by the CDE for size and scope or notification timelines, an LEA may request a waiver of these requirements from the SBE. When the CDE receives a waiver request from an LEA to waive the SBE size and scope requirements in order to become a SELPA, the CDE staff use the same SBE approved size and scope policy to analyze the request and make a recommendation for approval or denial to the SBE. Aside from the SBE size and scope policy, the CDE has no additional criteria outlined in SBE policy or statute to guide the evaluation of the waiver request and, ultimately, the CDE’s recommendation of approval or denial. Because the SBE approved the size and scope policy in 1983, some stakeholders have suggested the policy be revisited to ensure it acknowledges and reflects the current structure of special education service delivery and accountability in the state.

[Source:  CDE Memo to SBE, "Special Education Local Plan Areas - History and Requirements," March 27, 2019.]


Links and Approved Plan Exemplars

Complete CDE Local Plan Information - Legal authority and comprehensive requirements provided at the California Department of Education website

Butte County SELPA Local Plan - A multi-district SELPA example with links to manuals, policies, and practices that are incorporated by reference into the Local Plan.

Irvine USD SELPA Local Plan - An actual single-district Local Plan with links to manuals, policies, and practices that are incorporated by reference into the Local Plan.

Solano County SELPA Local Plan - An exemplary Local Plan with links to manuals, policies, and practices that are incorporated by reference into the Local Plan.