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Plumas Charter partners with El Dorado County

Taletha Washburn, left, the executive director of Plumas Charter School, and Special Education Coordinator Lori Hahn, announce that Plumas Charter school has partnered with the El Dorado County Office of Education Charter SELPA to better provide services for its students with special needs. Photo submitted

Plumas Charter School Executive Director Taletha Washburn and Special Education Coordinator Lori Hahn announced that the school is partnering with the El Dorado County Office of Education Charter SELPA and the Northstate Charter JPA.

SELPA stands for Special Education Local Plan Area. All public schools must be a part of a SELPA to ensure the integrity and accountability of serving students with special needs.

SELPAs also help to ensure that schools are in compliance with state and federal laws related to the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).

The functional purposes of a SELPA are to support the design and implementation of special education programs and services, to provide professional development to educational staff, to provide assistance with data monitoring, and to provide fiscal support and guidance.

The El Dorado County Office of Education (EDCOE) Charter SELPA is a state-level organization designed to meet the unique needs of charter schools in delivering services for students with disabilities. It has been in operation for 10 years and partners with 265 schools throughout California.

Through partnering with EDCOE, Plumas Charter School can access a program specialist and a wide variety of professional development activities, as well as a comprehensive group of professionals to support and improve program design and provision of services.

The Northstate Charter JPA (Joint Powers Authority) also formed in the last 10 years by Redding School of the Arts co-founder and special education expert Jean Hatch.

The purpose of the JPA is similar to that of a SELPA in that they both support schools’ SPED programs and services by providing guidance, compliance monitoring, and access to service providers.

The JPA partners with 11 schools throughout the north state. Through partnering with the JPA, Plumas Charter School can access school psychologist services, regular onsite support and guidance from program experts, as well as compliance support and data monitoring.

According to Plumas Charter, the intent in partnering with both of these organizations is to have access to an extensive network of resources to continue to improve upon its programs and support for its students.

The partnership began July 1, and since that time, educational staff have taken advantage of several professional development activities including a two-day teacher academy in Oakland, which highlighted best practices for both general education teachers and special education teachers working with students with disabilities; a week-long reading disabilities training in Santa Barbara; day-long steering and CEO council meetings; community action committee meetings, and webinars in Universal Design in Learning (UDL) and support for para-educators.

Upcoming professional development includes training in dyslexia and how to best support special education students and their parents in an independent study environment.

Program specialists have visited school sites to help improve upon and design inclusive models to help ensure that students with disabilities are educated in the least restrictive environment.

Plumas Charter’s inclusion goal is to have students spend as much time as possible with their peers and minimize the time they are pulled from general education activities.

Program specialists have also assisted Plumas Charter in planning the programs of the many new special education students that enrolled this year.

Plumas Charter School transitioned to the El Dorado SELPA from the Plumas SELPA to have greater autonomy and control of its own program and services, and enjoy greater access to a variety of resources and support, as well as special education funding.

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