Several laws govern special education, including The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act. As public schools, charter schools are required to enroll and serve students with disabilities and special education needs. Federal law and regulation prohibit any public school, including charter schools, from denying admission to any student on the basis of a disability, or the nature of or extent of a disability. More specifically, a student with disabilities must be afforded the opportunity to participate in a charter school (Title 34CFR). For the purposes of providing special education services under the IDEA, a charter school must become a member of a Special Education Local Planning Area (SELPA).
In an effort to equalize educational opportunities for students with disabilities in California, the state adopted the California Master Plan to outline the process of developing a quality educational program. A requirement of the plan was for all Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) to join together in geographical regions to develop a special education delivery system. Each service region is required to be of a size sufficient enough to have the capability to provide the full continuum of services for students residing within the regional boundaries. The service regions were named Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs).
There are currently three SELPAs within the Riverside County region accepting applications from charter schools: the El Dorado County Charter SELPA, the Desert/Mountain Charter SELPA and the Riverside County SELPA. More information on each of these SELPAs can be found by visiting their websites.