I asked our SELPA Director, Jon Lenz to write about our county SELPA, what it is and who it serves. As you can see, Jon is a clever writer.
Working for the Tuolumne County SELPA is an enriching and rewarding job that permits me to work with some of the most talented individuals in Tuolumne County. The job truly only has one drawback – trying to explain the work that I do. The question of, “What do you do for a living?” is simple and straightforward enough to answer for most people, but not for me. And at every dinner party or social gathering when small talk ensues, the question always surfaces. In fact, the question is as reliable as the sun rising, or at least as reliable as the Cubs not winning the World Series. You too would share my fear of this mundane question if you witnessed the countless blank expressions that I encounter when I respond, “I work for the SELPA”. It is as though I am speaking some foreign dialect. Does the firefighter get the same response? No. Firefighters fight fires and everyone knows it. I on the other hand need to provide a little more background to inquiring minds.
First, SELPA is an acronym that stands for Special Education Local Plan Area. SELPAs were created in 1983 to create regions that provide special education services to students with disabilities in California. All the school districts in Tuolumne County belong to the Tuolumne County SELPA. The districts in the SELPA work together to develop a “local plan” that identifies how eligible students in Tuolumne County will be provided special education services. The SELPA is responsible to provide training and resources to its member districts regarding the implementation of the local plan and ensure that the special education services provided are consistent with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEIA). Additionally, the SELPA provides information and resources to families regarding their rights related to special education. The SELPA staff include ten teachers and support staff who operate classrooms designed to assist school districts in Tuolumne County with meeting the unique needs of students with disabilities. The Tuolumne County SELPA also provides Speech and Language Pathologists, School Psychologists, Occupational Therapists, Vocational Technicians, an Early Intervention Specialist, an Adaptive Physical Education Teacher, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired, and a School Nurse to work with students with special needs. Working for the SELPA is amazing. Individualization is a necessity and thinking outside the box is the cornerstone of our work. There is nothing in this world as rewarding as seeing the students we serve learn, advance, and achieve.
And so I now must ask, where do you work?