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SELPA Procedures

Purpose of the Procedures Guide

Updated 1/9/14

The Procedures Guide-Online is a work in progress. Information and sections will be added and/or updated as necessary.

The purpose of this guide is to provide specific information regarding processes and procedures in special education. The procedures guide provides answers as to why and how special education functions. The guide acts as a reference tool for both nuts and bolts information and best practices in special education. The Procedures Guide is an official policy document of the Contra Costa SELPA and each member Local Education Agency (LEA).

This procedures guide is to be used as a resource tool by all special education personnel. It is the intent of the committee for this guide to be used as a working document to assist teachers, parents, administrators, and staff involved in helping students with special needs. The Procedures Guide contains a variety of useful tools to assist you in using it as a resource.

The "To Do List" boxes can be used as a checklist in completing different tasks such as low incidence reimbursements or preparing an assessment report.

The "Resource Link" boxes provide links to information either on the web or in SELPA publications.

There are different publications that can be stand-alone information manuals, but are incorporated into this document:

  1. Occupational Therapy Guidelines
  2. Parent Handbook

Accommodations and Modifications

Updated March 2021

Accommodations and Modifications are types of adaptations that affect instructional arrangement, lesson format, specific learning strategies and curricular goals. These adaptations are used to provide eligible students equal opportunity to obtain the same results, to gain the same benefit, or to reach the same level of achievement in the most integrated setting appropriate to the student's needs. Adaptations should not provide the student with an unfair advantage over others, or invalidate an assessment. The term "Accommodation" typically refers to adaptations which do not fundamentally alter or lower standards or expectations in either the instructional or assessment phases of a course of study, and allows the student to demonstrate mastery of performance standards. "Modifications" refer to adaptations which do alter or lower standards, resulting in a fundamental change in curriculum content or evidence of mastery. Modifications will necessitate an alternate assessment or modified grade, which may affect credit toward graduation.

Requirements in the Law for Students with Disabilities
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA '04) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 require that individuals with disabilities are to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) which must occur in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with supplemental aids and services, when necessary. Aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes or other education-related settings to enable children with disabilities to be educated with non-disabled children to the maximum extent appropriate are required by Federal Regulation sections 300.39(b)(3) and 300.42.

Adaptations in General Education
Adaptations are permissible changes in curriculum which allow the student equal opportunity to obtain access, results and benefits. General adaptations for curriculum access and for the demonstration of learning mastery are available to students in the general education program. Teachers may adapt curriculum activities, instruction or access in order to promote the learning of any child; however, for a child with a disability those requirements in the law identified above require that we consider accommodations and/or modifications to assist a student with a disability to access and participate with non-disabled peers.

Accommodations are adaptations which do not fundamentally alter or lower standards or expectations. They provide access to participate in the LRE and provide for an opportunity for students to demonstrate mastery of performance standards. Accommodations may be used to describe an alteration of environment, curriculum format, or equipment that allows an individual with a disability to gain access to content and/or provide the ability to complete assigned tasks. Accommodations allow students with disabilities to pursue a regular course of study. Since accommodations do not alter what is being taught, instructors should be able to implement the same grading standards for students with disabilities as they do for students without disabilities. Some examples of accommodations include:

  • sign language interpreters for students who are deaf;
  • computer text-to-speech computer-based systems for students with visual impairments or Dyslexia;
  • extended time for students with fine motor limitations, visual impairments, or learning disabilities;
  • specialized seating supports;
  • spell-checker for a student with writing difficulties;
  • large-print books and worksheets for students with visual impairments;
  • alternative keyboards for students who cannot operate standard mice and keyboards.

Modifications are adaptations which do alter or lower standards or expectations. Modifications may be used to describe a change in the curriculum. They are made for students, who because of their disability are unable to comprehend all of the content an instructor is teaching. For example, assignments might be modified significantly for an elementary school student with cognitive impairments that limit his/her ability to understand the content in the general education class in which they are included. The use of modifications often necessitates an alternate assessment or modified grade.

Types of Classroom Adaptations
Classroom adaptations are selected individually for each child to reflect his or her learning and participation requirements. Following an assessment, the IEP team will determine whether adaptations are required for a student to access the core curriculum or alternate curriculum. Adaptations selected will afford the student the opportunity to demonstrate competence or participate, but are not designed to be guarantees that the student will achieve the same level of success as his or her non-disabled peers.
Classroom adaptations typically fall into one of nine types or categories, based upon the research of Jeff Sprague, Ph.D. Some of these fundamentally alter the mastery of course material and may require a change in the basis for grading.

Adapt the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or complete.

Example: Reduce the number of math problems required or the number to state capitols to memorize.

Adapt the time allotted or allowed for learning, task completing or testing.

Example: Individualize a timeline for completing a project or pace activities differently.

Level of Support
Increase the amount of personal assistance for a student.

Example: Assign peer buddies, teaching assistants, peer tutors, or cross-age tutors.

Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner.

Example: Use different visual aids, enlarge text, provide more concrete examples, provide hands-on activities, place students in cooperative groups.
Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.

Example: Allow the use of a calculator to figure math problems, simplify task directions, change rules to accommodate learner needs.
Adapt how the student can respond to instruction.

Example: Allow verbal responses instead of written, use a communication book or device, allow student to show knowledge with hands-on materials.
Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task.

Example: In geography, have the student hold the globe, while others are required to point out locations.
Alternate Goals
Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials.

Example: In social science, expect the student to locate states on a map, while other students are learning to locate capitals, rivers, etc.
Substitute Curriculum
Provide different instruction and materials to meet the student's individual goals.

Example: During a language arts exam, the student is practicing computer skills in the computer lab.

If the IEP team determines that a student requires adaptations in a general education class, the IEP chairperson must provide the general education teacher(s) a copy of the IEP and any instruction the teacher(s) need(s) in implementing those adaptations. In some districts, the general education teacher may be required to document that he or she understands their specific responsibilities in implementing the student's IEP.
If students require the use of adaptations in the classroom, as reported as Supplemental Aids and Supports in the IEP, some of those adaptations may also be allowed on the required State tests. Please consult the Statewide Testing Chapter of the Contra Costa SELPA Procedures Guide for more information.

For a precise explanation of the types of adaptations allowed on the different tests in the State Testing Programs, go to:
All students with disabilities shall participate in state and district-wide assessment programs. The IEP team determines how a student will access assessments with or without accommodations, or access alternate assessments, consistent with state standards governing such determinations.

For preschool students participating in state-wide assessments, currently the DRDP (2015), there are specific adaptations identified that increases the student's comfort or improves the availability of sensory input. One of the important features of the DRDP (2015) is the use of adaptations. Adaptations are changes in the environment or differences in observed behavior that allow children with IFSPs and IEPs to be most accurately assessed in their typical settings. All adaptations used are based on each individual child's needs and are not tied to any specific disability.

The seven categories of adaptations for the DRDP (2015) serve an essential function - to make sure that the instrument measures ability rather than disability are:

  1. Augmentative or alternative communication system- Methods of communication other than speech that allow a child who is unable to use spoken language to communicate with others.
  2. Alternative Mode for Written Language- Methods of reading or writing used by a child who cannot see well enough to read or write or cannot hold and manipulate a writing utensil (e.g., pencil, pen) well enough to produce written symbols.
  3. Visual Support Adjustments to the environment that provide additional information to a child who has limited or reduced visual input.
  4. Assistive Equipment or Device Tools that make it possible or easier for a child to perform a task.
  5. Functional Positioning Strategic positioning and postural support that allow a child to have increased control of his body.
  6. Sensory Support Increasing or decreasing sensory input to facilitate a child's attention and interaction in the environment.
  7. Alternative Response Mode The form of a child's behavior may differ from typical development (such as avoiding looking at people while speaking to them) but still be rated as demonstrating mastery. This adaptation allows for differences in the child's behavior rather than modifications to the environment.

For more information on preschool adaptations please go to:

Information Currently Identified in the Document Library in SEIS:


Access to a word processor
Content outline
Provide hard copy of class notes
Allow oral response
Note taking assistance
Additional time to complete assignments
Use personal dictionary or thesaurus
Graphic organizers to plan writing
Allow extra time for written response
Use visual instructional aids

Books on tape
Use study sheet/key words highlighted
Use visual aids to add meaning
Allow students to highlight key points
Use small group instruction
Use pair or choral response
Present vocabulary visually
Gave examples of vocabulary in student language/primary language
Use study aids
Large print
Closed Caption



Display examples/models
Provide written and verbal directions
Break assignments into smaller tasks
Give extended time for completion of tasks
Allow oral responses
Sequence steps by numbering them
Give directions in small steps
Provide more space on sheet
Remind of due dates for long term projects
Use of calendar/planner

Use manipulatives
Give vocabulary cards in student language
Use math charts
Use computation aids
Use graph paper to align numbers
Use mnemonic devices
Use peer partner
Provide fact table for reference
Give more space on paper
Read word problems out loud
Break word problems into smaller steps
Use illustrations


Science/Social Studies

Provide study questions/sheet
Read aloud questions
Allow oral responses
Vary the test format
Give extra time for completion
Give test over more than one day
Allow small group testing
Simplify language on tests/quizzes
Quiet environment
Content outlines
Give content vocabulary in student language
Give content vocabulary with pictures
Use video to support text
Substitute projects for written work
Substitute worksheets for projects
Substitute worksheets for written work
Use a note taker



Set clearly defined standards
Limit number of defined standards
Use private signals to remind student
Preferential seating (Need to face the student, free from visual distractions, etc)
Monitor transitions carefully
Give student a job to divert student
Let student take a break/walk
Supervision during unstructured time
Cues/prompts/reminders of rules / procedures
Offer choices



Use peer tutoring
Pairs or small group work
Present one task at a time
Provide copy of class notes
Use visuals in oral presentation
Provide copy of projected material
Teach specific study skills
Allow varied student responses
Provide written and verbal instructions
Highlight key points within written material
Encourage student to repeat directions orally
Slow your pace
Frequent checks for understanding
Instructions/directions repeated or rephrased
Preferential seating (explain)


The IEP team must determine whether the student's grades in core curriculum areas will be based upon standards that apply to non-disabled students, or upon an alternative standard. In most cases an accommodation would not be considered an alternative standard. If the team determines that an alternative standard will be used, a description of that standard or modification needs to be noted in the IEP document. Some options for grading when accommodations are applicable include:

  • Grades based upon performance given stated accommodations
  • Grades based upon performance on an alternative standard
  • Pass/Fail grades only Grades in mainstreamed classes to be assigned by Special Education Teacher
  • Grades assigned collaboratively between Core and Special Education Teachers
  • Grades based on assignments completed in class Grading by individual contract with core subject teacher
  • Report card grades should provide accurate feedback for the student and the parent on where the student's accomplishments fall on the continuum of the curriculum expectations. When grading a student with special needs using a standards-based report card, a teacher must be very clear that she is rating the student compared with non-disabled peers.

While report cards are indicators of student progress that are distributed to students and parents only, transcripts are permanent records that are shared with other agencies. Transcripts may not reflect that students were enrolled in Special Education courses. They may indicate that the curriculum was modified, only if the school offers modified courses to non-disabled students.

Special Circumstances Instructional Assistance (SCIA)
Special Circumstances Instructional Assistance (SCIA) is provided for students with disabilities when additional support is necessary for the student to meet his or her goals and objectives. Whenever necessary, additional assistance may be assigned to a school environment or class. Occasionally, however, a student may require individual support for a designated period of time to address a unique need. By law, services to students with special needs must be delivered in "the least restrictive environment". When the IEP team is considering SCIA, all aspects of the student's program must be considered. A SCIA request is made only after other documented site interventions have proven unsuccessful. A student's educational program must be carefully evaluated to determine when and where the additional support is required. Natural supports and existing staff should be used whenever possible to promote educational benefit in the least restrictive environment. A primary goal for all students with special needs is to encourage, support, and maximize independence. Additional assistance must be targeted to the identified areas of need and carefully monitored for progress, as well as the IEP team periodically reviewing the continued need and effectiveness of this additional support. If not monitored and reviewed this assistance may unintentionally foster dependence, rather than independence.

State Education Code Reference: 56205 (a)
Federal References: 20 USC Section 1412 (a) (16)

Adaptive Physical Education (APE)

Updated 8/2/18

Standard 3.13: Once a child is identified as having a disability and is determined to be eligible for special education by the IEP team; specific physical education services must be identified after considering a full continuum of program options. APE is one program option, which is listed as a designated instruction and service in the California code of Regulations (5CCR3051) and is therefore subject to the following requirements:

(a) General Provisions.
(l) Designated instruction and services may be provided to individuals or to small groups in a specialized area of educational need, and throughout the full continuum of educational settings.
(2) Designated instruction and service, when needed as determined by the individualized education program, shall include the frequency and duration of service.
(3) All entities and individuals providing designated instruction and services shall be qualified. (Refer to 5 CCR sec. 3051.5 for statute regarding credential requirement)

One of the conditions states must meet, in order to receive federal funding for special education, is to provide for education in the least restrictive environment. This is defined, in general, as:

To the maximum extend appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and service cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
(20 U.S.C. sec.1412 (a)(5).)

Physical Education Requirements in California
California has a mandatory requirement for student participation in physical education. This requirement applies to students with special needs, as well as students without special needs. The California requirements are:
Elementary (grades 1 through 6) = 200 minutes in 10 day
Secondary (grades 7 through 12)= 400 minutes in 10 days

34 CFR 300.108 (a) states that public agencies in the State must comply with the provision that physical education services, specially designed if necessary, must be made available to every child with a disability receiving FAPE, unless the public agency enrolls children without disabilities and does not provide physical education to children without disabilities in the same grades. (b) Each child with a disability must be afforded the opportunity to participate in the regular physical education program available to non-disabled children unless-
(1) The child is enrolled full time in a separate facility; or
(2) The child needs specially designed physical education, as prescribed in the child's IEP.

The comments to IDEA Regulations (2006) Physical education (Sec. 300.108) clarify that the intent of Congress was to ensure equal rights for children with disabilities. As stated in H. Rpt. No. 94-332, p. 9, (1975): Special education as set forth in the Committee bill includes instruction in physical education, which is provided as a matter of course to all non-handicapped children enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools. The Committee is concerned that although these services are available to and required of all children in our school systems, they are often viewed as a luxury for handicapped children.

Every student, including a student with disabilities, must participate in the minutes of physical education instruction required by statute. The student's time with the adapted physical education teacher is usually only a portion of this required time. Instruction for the remaining required physical education time is provided in a less restrictive environment which may include consultation from the adapted physical education teacher. Collaborative consultation is a professional interaction process that is effectively utilized within all of these programs to help meet the needs of the student.

Some Applications Include:
Children, who attend high school, have several types of physical education classes available to them. A student with a learning disability, who has difficulty participating in team sports, may be successful in a general physical education program of aerobics or weight training. Given the lifetime value of these activities, dismissal from adapted physical education may be appropriate. Or, if the student has specific needs, s/he may participate in a general physical education class for just a semester and then may return to one or more of the other physical education program options.

Children, who attend middle or elementary school, may engage in certain sports in a general physical education setting and may or may not simultaneously receive adapted Physical Education. Other children with disabilities may need a collaborative Adapted Physical Education program to meet their specific needs as the Adapted Physical Education Specialist is instrumental in helping the student attain movement skills.

Content Standards for Physical Education
Found at:

The California Physical Education Model Content Standards assist schools in establishing learning goals and objectives for physical education at each grade level.
Highlights of the Elementary Standards:
Standard 1: Students demonstrate the motor skills and movement patterns needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
Standard 2: Students demonstrate knowledge of movement concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to learning and performance of physical activities.
Standard 3: Students assess and maintain a level of physical fitness to improve health and performance.
Standard 4: Students demonstrate knowledge of physical fitness concepts, principles, and strategies to improve health and performance.
Standard 5: Students demonstrate and utilize knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity.

Highlights of the Secondary Standards:
Standard 1: Students demonstrate knowledge of and competency in motor skills, movement patterns, and strategies needed to perform a variety of physical activities.
Standard 2: Students achieve a level of physical fitness for health and performance while demonstrating knowledge of fitness concepts, principles, and strategies.
Standard 3: Students demonstrate knowledge of psychological and sociological concepts, principles, and strategies that apply to the learning and performance of physical activity.

Continuum of Participation in Physical Education

General Physical Education:

Physical education that addresses the core curricular standards for students without disabilities. The majority of students with special education needs can be mainstreamed into general education PE classes.

General Physical Education with Accommodations:

General Accommodations might include:
Equipment: larger/lighter bat, use of Velcro, larger or lowered goal/target, marking positions on the playing field, scoops for catch;
Time: vary the tempo, slow the activity pace, lengthen/shorten the time;
Rules, Prompts, Cues: demonstrate or model activity, assign a partner, disregard time limits, oral prompts, more space between students, eliminate outs/strike-outs, allow ball to remain stationary, allow batter to sit in chair, place student with a disability near the teacher.

General Physical Education with Modifications:

Modification of the general physical education program to allow participation by the student with disabilities. Some typical modifications include:
1. Placement or role adjustment for safety or ability level (Pitcher vs. outfielder)
2. Shortened duration of participation, spacing rest intervals, or pacing of activity.
3. Adaptation of the skill (bounce and catch instead of dribble a basketball)
4. Use of substitutions ( a "pinch" hitter or runner, or an assistant goalie)
5. Modification of equipment or facility (use of brightly colored balls or auditory cues, lower nets, closer targets, lightweight objects, assistive devices.
6. Modification of the rules ( 5 strikes, closer Tees, 4 outfielders)
7. Additional support or supervision (peer buddy or adult support)

Specialized Instruction in Physical Education:
Students who cannot participate meaningfully in a general or modified physical education program may participate in specially designed activities with their special education class. These activities address their unique needs and level of ability while also addressing the core curriculum standards. These may be indoor or outdoor games and activities that develop strength, stamina, coordination and recreation skills. An adapted physical education specialist may consult with the classroom staff in developing activities that address curricular standards and individual needs.

Adapted Physical Education:
Students who are precluded from participating in general, modified, or specialized physical education due to their unique needs may receive adapted physical education services from a credentialed APE specialist. Note that APE services rarely meet the minimum number of minutes required for PE in California, and must be supplemented with other physical activities in the classroom to meet the 200/400 minutes required every 10 days.
Before a student is referred for gross motor skill assessment, the student must be determined to be eligible for special education and have exhausted the ability to modify the general or special education physical education program. All attempted modifications in the general or special education physical education program must be documented.

5 CCR sec. 3051.5(a) Adapted physical education is for individuals with exceptional needs who require developmental or corrective instruction and who are precluded from participation in the activities of the general physical education program, modified general physical education program, or in a specially designed physical education program in a special class. Consultative services may be provided to pupils, parents, teachers, or other school personnel for the purpose of identifying supplementary aids and services or modifications necessary for successful participation in the regular physical education program or specially designed physical education programs.

Assessment and Eligibility for Adapted Physical Education
In addition to formalized tests, teacher observations, and interviews with educators and family members who know the student, teacher made tests, and review of student records should be utilized. Although not exhaustive, some of the formal assessments may include: Adapted Physical Education Scale, Analysis of Sensory Behavior Inventory, Basic Motor Ability Test, and Bruininks-Oseretsky Test of Motor Proficiency. Specific testing methods and the assessment process are at the discretion of the assessor.

Based on the student's function in the areas of physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns, and skills in aquatics, dance and individual and group games and sports, the following criteria must be considered to determine if the student's needs require the expertise of the specialist:

  • There is a significant limitation in at least one performance area listed above.
  • The problem adversely affects the student's ability to benefit from his/her educational program.
  • The potential for student improvement over time through intervention appears likely
  • The unique expertise of the APE specialist is required to meet the student's identified needs or to assist the team in providing educational benefit.

Assessment for APE requires an assessment plan, a report of the assessment completed to document present level of performance and specific need, and presentation at an IEP meeting within 60 days of receipt of the signed assessment plan. Goals (and objectives if required) must address California Content Standards for Physical Education.

Adapted Physical Education Assessments should include:

  • The use of a variety of procedures, including observation and standardized testing measures,
  • The use of tests that are valid, technically sound and non-discriminatory, that address educational need, not just disability,
  • Tests that are administered in the child's primary language,
  • Documentation if non-standard administrations are used,
  • An evaluation report that contains all the required information:
    1. Whether the pupil may need related services
    2. The relevant behavior noted during the observation
    3. Relationship of the students behavior to his physical functioning
    4. Educationally relevant health, developmental and medical findings
    5. The need for specialized materials or equipment for students with low incidence disabilities.

Assessment and Returning to Regular Physical Education Program or Specially Designed Physical Education Programs
Based on the student's function in the areas of physical and motor fitness, fundamental motor skills and patterns, and skills in aquatics, dance and individual and group games and sports, the following criteria should be considered to determine if the student is ready to participate in less restrictive physical education as the student's needs no longer require the direct expertise of the specialist:

  • The expected intervention outcomes have been met and no additional outcomes are appropriate.
  • The potential for further significant change as a result of intervention appears unlikely.
  • The identified limitation no longer requires the unique expertise of the APE Specialist.
  • The identified limitation can be addressed by participation in regular physical education program or specially designed physical education programs with consultation from the APE Specialist.
  • The identified limitation ceases to be educationally relevant.
  • APE is no longer required due to a change in medical/physical/psychological/social status.

For specific information on APE guidelines provided by the California Department of Education, Special Education Division, please click on the link below to access: ADAPTED PHYSICAL EDUCATION GUIDELINES IN CALIFORNIA SCHOOLS



Before any action is taken with respect to a student's placement in special education, an assessment must be completed. An assessment is required in the following instances:

  • Prior to initial placement in special education program.
  • Whenever any significant change in the student's special education placement occurs, including addition of new services, and discontinuation of existing services.
  • If the team of qualified assessors, which includes the parent(s), determine that additional data are needed in reviewing whether the student continues to need special education and related services.
  • Every three (3) years or more frequently, if conditions warrant or if the student's parent(s) or teacher requests a new assessment when a new Individualized Education Program (IEP) is to be developed.
  • When a referral for special education and related services is made, district should document each request, including oral requests. If the request is made orally the district shall offer assistance, if necessary, in making a written request for special education assessment.
  • Procedural Safeguards are provided to parents each time a request for special education is made.

Parent Notification of Assessment Plan
Whenever an assessment for the development or revision of the IEP is to be conducted, the parent of the student shall be given, in writing, a proposed assessment plan within fifteen (15) days of the referral for assessment. The assessment plan shall be provided in the primary language of the parent or other communication code use by the parent, if feasible to do so.

In developing an Assessment Plan for parent approval, districts are required to describe the type of assessment sufficiently for a parent to understand the procedure and make an informed decision on whether to allow the assessment to proceed. Districts are not required to list specific test instruments on the plan, but may use descriptors such as: "standardized tests of ability", "structured observation", "rating scales", "criteria referenced tests", "play-based assessments", "teacher made tests", etc.

An assessment plan must be signed each time any individualized assessment (observation, standardized testing) is conducted for an individual student. Each time an assessment plan is signed, an assessment report must be completed.

Assessment Plan To Do List
1) Develop with the IEP team and parent input
2) Address all areas of suspected disability
3) Acknowledge current assessment and additional information submitted
4) Provide a copy of Parent's Rights document
5) Give to parent within 15 days of request for assessment
6) Parent has 15 days to sign and return to LEA/school
7) Begin sixty (60) day timeline when plan is received back from parent (date stamp to show receipt of plan)


Testing and Assessment Criteria
Testing, assessment materials and procedures shall be selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory. They are designed to prevent the inappropriate over identification or disproportionate representation by race and ethnicity of children as children with disabilities, including children with disabilities with a particular impairment described in § 300.8.

Assessments shall meet all of the following requirements:

  • Hearing and vision screening data must be available prior to conducting an assessment. Data must be less than one year old. Data must be included in the assessment report. A vision and hearing screening must be done within one year of an initial assessment and a three-year re- evaluation. LEAs should have a schedule of completing vision and hearing screenings for all students (i.e. at grades 3 and 5). If not it must be ensured that vision and hearing screenings are updated for special education students. School sites should work with their district special education administrator(s) if a process is not in place.
  • Individuals shall be assessed in their primary language or other mode of communication and in all areas related to the suspected disability.
  • Assessments shall have been validated for the specific purposes for which they are used.
  • Trained personnel shall administer assessments in conformance with instructions provided by the producer of the tests and other assessment materials. If an interpreter is used, caution shall be taken to assure the validity of the test findings and documentation of the procedures used shall be included in the assessment report.
  • Assessments shall be tailored to assess specific areas of educational need, not merely to provide a single general intelligence quotient.
  • A credentialed school psychologist shall conduct psychological assessments. A credentialed school nurse or physician shall conduct health assessments.
  • Alternative means of intellectual assessment must be documented for African-American students, as a result of the September 1986 U.S. District Court decision. Use of standard intelligence testing of African American students has been suspended and alternative assessment procedures are being used.
  • Previous testing results for these students have been removed from the student record.
  • Assessments shall be selected and administered to best ensure that a test administered to a student with impaired sensory, manual or speaking skills produces results that accurately reflect the student's aptitude, achievement level or any other factors the test purports to measure, rather than the student's impaired sensory, manual, or speaking skills unless those skills are the factors the test purports to measure.
  • No single score or measure shall be used as the sole criteria for determining an appropriate educational program for a person with disabilities.
  • Testing and evaluation materials and procedures used for the purpose of evaluation and placement are selected and administered so as not to be racially, culturally, or sexually discriminatory.
  • The student shall be assessed in all areas related to the suspected disability including, where appropriate, health and development, vision, hearing, motor abilities, language function, general ability, academic performance, and social emotional status, career/vocational abilities, self-help and orientation/mobility.
  • Students need not be tested in areas in which no disability is suspected. When appropriate, a developmental history shall also be obtained. For students with residual vision, a low-vision assessment shall be provided in accordance with guidelines established pursuant to Section 56136 Education Code.

Triennial Review
Federal and state laws require that all special education students be re-evaluated at least once every three (3) years. Prior to the three-year review, IEP teams should determine and discuss the re-evaluation review process. In preparing for a student's re-evaluation, the IEP team members must review existing assessment and evaluation data, consider current classroom-based assessments, observations, and student performance. Based on this re-evaluation review, IEP teams then determine what, if any, additional data are needed to complete the three-year summary report.

Questions for Re-evaluation:
Does the student continue to have a disability?
What are the student's present levels of performance and needs?
Does the student continue to need special education and related services?
Does the student need modifications to the program to enable him/her to meet annual goals and participate in the general curriculum?


The IEP team completes the Re-Evaluation Review form and presents it to the student's parent(s). If additional assessment data is needed based on review by any team member including parent, the team develops an assessment plan. If no additional assessments are needed because sufficient data currently exist and the parents concur, then the team completes its three-year summary report based on information gathered during the re-evaluation review. This report must contain elements of all ten Assessment Report requirements. See "Assessment Report" section.

Multidisciplinary Assessment
The assessment shall be made by a multidisciplinary group of persons, consistent with federal law and regulations. Such personnel shall include at least one teacher or specialist with knowledge in the area of the suspected disability. A school site IEP team may often conduct a multidisciplinary team assessment during an initial or triennial evaluation. When a multidisciplinary team assessment is completed, one report is written together by the team.

Student under the age of five shall be observed in an appropriate setting.

Additional Assessment by State Schools
When assessment of certain students is beyond the capacity of the LEA or when additional assessment is required, the student may be referred to one of the California Schools for Deaf and/or Blind or one of the Diagnostic Schools.

Assessment of Visually Impaired
Students who are visually impaired should be given the opportunity to be assessed to determine the reading medium that is most appropriate for them.

An assessment of Braille skills is required for functionally blind students who have the ability to read.

Assessment of Hearing Impaired
Knowledgeable personnel conduct assessment in the language mode of communication. The language mode of communication is the method of communication used by hard-of-hearing and deaf student that may include the use of sign language to send or receive messages or the use of spoken language, with (total communication) or without visual cues.

Assessment Report
Unless a multidisciplinary assessment has been conducted and reported upon, all members of the assessment team shall communicate their findings to the IEP team in the form of written reports. Each assessment report must contain all of the following information:

  • Results of tests administered in primary language by qualified personnel
  • Statement regarding validity of the assessment
  • Whether standardized test results are valid
  • Whether the student's needs can be met in the general education classroom or whether the student may need special education and related services
  • The relevant behavior noted during the observation of the student in an appropriate setting.
  • The relationship of behavior to the student's academic and social functioning as well as areas of needs
  • The educationally relevant health, developmental, and medical findings, if any
  • A determination concerning the effects of environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage, when appropriate
  • The need for specialized services, materials, and equipment for students with low incidence disabilities
  • If any independent assessments were conducted, a brief summarization of results should be included in background information.

Assessment reports may be completed whenever documentation of observations or impressions is required. The assessment report is the opportunity for participants in assessment to document their professional perceptions and recommendations.

Each assessor should include a statement as to whether or not the student meets specific criteria for a particular disabling condition, including notification that these criteria will be shared with the IEP team to determine eligibility for special education. Determination of actual eligibility is made during a meeting by the entire assessment team including the parent, not by any one individual.

For students with specific learning disabilities, additional information must be included in the assessment team's report. See "Specific Learning Disabilities" section in the Procedures Guide.

When an interpreter has been used in the assessment process or when it has not been feasible to conduct the assessment in the student's primary language, the assessment report shall document these conditions and note that the validity of the assessment may be affected.

Recommended Assessment Report Format

Reason for Referral
• State reason for referral and the person who made the referral
• State parent concerns
• Note all suspected areas of disability
Background Information
• Include developmental, medical, and health information
• Make sure the student's vision and hearing screening is up-to-date
• Note relevant family history (i.e. number of siblings)
• Note primary language and language spoken at home: is student an English Language Learner (ELL)?
• Include school history and academic performance such as schools attended, grades, previous accommodations, modifications or concerns
• Utilize information gained from record reviews, parent, teacher, and/or student interviews
• Include the following observational data as appropriate:
› Classroom/playground observations
› Relationship of the behavior to academic functioning
Previous Assessments
• Include pertinent information from district assessments
• Consider information from private and/or independent assessments
Current Assessment/Evaluation
• List the tests administered and the scores received
• Note the student's test behavior
• Discuss implications for the ELL student on assessment
• State that the tests are non-discriminatory, administered by qualified personnel and the procedure used as the assessment
• Discuss extent to which the assessment varied from standard testing conditions if applicable
• State that the tests are non-discriminatory, administered by qualified personnel and the procedure used as the assessment
• Note the determination of effects of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage where appropriate
Discussion of Test Results
• Present your interpretation of the student's scores and a brief description of the subtests including:
› Statement of validity and purpose
› Whether or not an interpreter was used, if applicable
› Student's educational need
› Alternate assessments used, if applicable
• Summarize the student's profile, strengths, and challenges
• Discuss whether the student's needs can be met in the general education classroom
• Make recommendations for possible accommodations
• Note consideration of eligibility criteria and determination to be made at IEP meeting


Independent Assessment
Parents may provide results of an independent assessment, obtained at private expense, for IEP team consideration. When these reports are received, an IEP meeting must be scheduled within thirty (30) calendar days and include relevant members of the IEP Team.

Although the report must be considered, the district may require that it meet the same standards established for assessment conducted by the district.

On the "Comments and Clarification" form, the district should document what portion of the independent assessment the IEP team used in determining eligibility, placement or services implemented. Areas of agreement and/or disagreement with the district's assessment should be included. The IEP team should clearly indicate the degree to which its decisions were based on outside assessment data. The district may have an obligation to pay for private assessments to the extent that the school's assessment is determined to be inappropriate or incomplete.

Independent Educational Evaluations (IEE)
If a parent disagrees with an assessment conducted by the LEA, a parent has the right to request an Independent Educational Evaluation (IEE) at public expense. The District's assessment in question must be two years old or less. If the assessment is older than two years or does not exist, the district should conduct a new assessment. The following information defines the circumstances and steps under which parents of a student with a disability are entitled to an independent educational evaluation at public expense for their child. Please reference the Contra Costa Special Education Local Plan Area IEE procedures below. Local Education Agency (LEA) board policy should be in place to reflect a parent's right to an IEE.

"Independent educational evaluation" means an evaluation conducted by a qualified examiner who is not employed by the LEA. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(3)(i)).

"Public expense" means that the LEA either pays for the full cost of the evaluation or evaluation components or ensures that the evaluation or evaluation components are otherwise provided at no cost to the parent. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(3)(ii)).

Parameters for Seeking Independent Educational Evaluation

If a parent disagrees with an evaluation by the LEA and seeks an independent educational evaluation by written notification of the LEA, the LEA will either initiate a due process hearing to show that its evaluation is appropriate or provide the parent an opportunity to obtain an independent educational evaluation in accord with policy by arranging for the independent education evaluation. The LEA requires that the parent first communicate in writing to the LEA or inform the LEA at an IEP meeting both that the parent:
Disagrees with the LEA's evaluation; AND
Requests an Independent Education Evaluation at public expense.

Only one IEE will be provided for any LEA assessment with which the parent disagrees. The parent may not disagree with the results of an IEE and request another one.

The LEA will ask for the parent's reason why he or she objects to the LEA's evaluation, but the parent need not respond. The LEA will not delay the implementation of this policy because of the parent's lack of response. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(b)(4)).

Upon parent request for an independent educational evaluation, the LEA will provide general information to the parents about their policy. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(a)(2)).

Upon parent request for an independent educational evaluation, the LEA will offer the parent a choice of an alternative LEA evaluator and options for providing an independent educational evaluation at public expense as follows:

A staff member from another school;
A staff member from another LEA in the SELPA;
A staff member from another SELPA;
A private sector provider.

The parents will communicate to the LEA, in writing, their preferred option. The LEA will contract with an independent examiner or otherwise ensure that an IEE is provided at public expense. (300.502(b)(2)(ii)). Parents will be required to sign a release and exchange of information between the IEE evaluator(s) and the district.

If the LEA initiates a hearing and the final decision is that the LEA's evaluation is appropriate, the parent still has the right to an IEE, but not at public expense.
(34 C.F.R. § 300.502(b)(3)).

Time Line Regarding Independent Educational Evaluation
In the interest of consistency between public and private evaluations, the LEA encourages parent to choose an option (above) for an IEE offered by the LEA within 15 days of receiving the options.

The LEA will contract with a qualified independent examiner who can provide a written report for an IEP meeting upon completion of the Independent Educational Evaluation. If the selected candidate cannot meet the time -line, the LEA will inform the parent and ask for agreement to an extension or selection of another option.

Agency Criteria
The criteria under which an independent evaluation is obtained at public expense, including the location limitations for the evaluation, minimum qualifications of the examiner, cost limits, and use of approved instruments must be the same as the criteria that the LEA uses when it initiates an evaluation. (34 C.F.R. § 300.502(e)(1)).

As part of an independent evaluation, the examiner shall follow guidelines for LEA evaluations, which include but are not limited to observing the student in an appropriate setting (Ed. Code § 56327). The LEA shall define the nature and scope of an independent examiner's in-class observations consistent with the right to an equivalent opportunity to observe, but also consistent with its obligations to prevent unnecessary disruption in the class and to protect the privacy interests of other students. This may include, but is not limited to, identifying the time constraints of such observation, LEA personnel who will participate in the observation and restrictions on student/teacher interactions. The independent examiner shall attend the IEP team meeting by phone or in person at which time the evaluation will be discussed. Assessments or evaluations shall be conducted by persons competent to perform the assessment, as determined by the school LEA, county office, or special education local plan area (Ed. Code § 56322).

Evaluators will be located within the Contra Costa SELPA geographic area. Evaluators outside of this area will be approved only on an exceptional basis, providing parents can demonstrate the necessity of using personnel outside the specified area. Any expenses beyond the evaluation (e.g., food, lodging, transportation, etc.) are not covered by the LEA in the cost of the IEE.

Evaluators with credentials other than those listed below will not be approved unless the parent can demonstrate the appropriateness of using an evaluator meeting other qualifications. (Ed. Code, § 56320, subd. (b)(3)).

Cost Containment Criteria for Evaluations
The cost of an IEE shall be comparable to those costs that the LEA incurs when it uses its own employees or contractors to perform a similar assessment. Costs include: observations, administration and scoring of tests, report writing, and attendance in person or by phone at an IEP team meeting. Reimbursement will be in an amount no greater than the actual cost to the parent and will be subject to proof of payment.

The cost of a psycho-educational IEE shall not exceed $5,000.00. The cost of a speech and language, occupational therapy, and/or adaptive physical education shall not exceed $1,500.00. The cost of other types of IEEs will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Guidelines for all IEE costs are calculated by considering time required for the assessment and the appropriate LEA employee hourly rate. Costs above these amounts will not be approved unless the parent can demonstrate that such costs reflect unique circumstances justifying the selection of an evaluator whose fees fall outside these criteria. The LEA will not necessarily fund the attendance of the assessor at the IEP team meeting convened to consider the IEE.

When insurance will cover all or partial costs of the IEE, the LEA will request that the parents voluntarily have their insurance pay the IEE costs covered by their insurance. However, parents will not be asked to have insurance cover the IEE costs if such action would result in a financial cost to the parents including, but not limited to the following:

A decrease in available lifetime coverage or any other benefit under an insurance policy.
An increase in premiums or the discontinuance of the policy; or
An out-of-pocket expense, such as payment of a deductible amount incurred in filing a claim, unless the parent is willing to have the LEA reimburse for the deductible.

As part of the contracted evaluation, independent evaluators must:
Provide protocols of all the assessments; and
Provide a written report prior to the IEP team meeting.

Independent evaluators must agree to release their assessment information and results to the LEA prior to receipt of payment for services. The results of the IEE will be considered in the determination of eligibility, program decisions, and placement of the student with disabilities as required by the individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

EC 56329
EC 56506 (c) EC 56043(k)
CCR 3022.
USC, 1415(b)(1),1414, 1412
CFR 300.173 300.303, 300.304
300.502, 300.503

Academic Achievement
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Adaptive Behavior
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Assistive Technology
Credentialed or Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist
Credentialed Assistive Technology Specialist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
Auditory Acuity
Licensed Educational Audiologist
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
Auditory Perception (Central Auditory Processing)
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
School Psychologist
Health (including Neurological)
Licensed Physician
Licensed Physical Therapist
Registered Occupational Therapist
Credentialed Teacher of the Physically Impaired
Adaptive Physical Education Teacher
Occupational Therapy
Licensed Occupational Therapist
Speech and Language
Licensed or Credentialed Speech/Language Pathologist
School Psychologist
Licensed Educational Psychologist
Visual Acuity/Developmental Vision
Licensed Ophthalmologist
Functional Vision
Credentialed Teacher of the Visually Impaired
Vision Perception
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist
Credentialed Special Education Teacher
School Psychologist


Updated September 2020

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team "consider" whether the child requires assistive technology and services (20 U.S.C. Section 1414[d] [3] [B] [v]). Each IEP team will therefore need to balance the degree of technology assistance with the student's learning rate, motivation, chronological age, developmental level and goals/objectives. It is important to note that assistive technology (AT) is a tool for access (e.g., school environment, curriculum) and for independence (e.g., communication, mobility), it is as much a process as a product.

Tiered Approach to the Consideration of Assistive Technology

Assistive technology can be viewed as a progression of interventions required to assist students with disabilities access the curriculum and achieve their individual educational goals. Lack of response to an intervention requires that new interventions of greater intensity be implemented. Assistive technology devices can fall under simple, low tech "accommodations" to more elaborate, high tech devices. Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) falls under AT as it addresses devices that attempt to compensate, either temporarily or permanently, for the impairment and disability patterns of individuals with severe expressive communication disorders.

It is important to use a collaborative school-based team approach in education settings for considering, planning, and providing needed assistive technology, which includes individuals who are knowledgeable about the student's disability, needs and strengths in the area of AT. When considering the need for assistive technology at any level, the IEP team should focus on the educational tasks of the curriculum and the daily routines that the student is required to perform, not on a particular piece of AT. Emphasis should be on the student's needs and the features of the technology/intervention required to perform the tasks; not necessarily on specific brand names. Services needed to implement the use of assistive technology must also be included in the IEP. The IEP should support the student's inclusion in all environments (home, school, community, or job).

In considering AT in Tier I, the focus lies in recognizing learning differences and enhancing access and performance of students. Instruction is aligned with state standards and includes ongoing and effective assessment in the classroom. The IEP team must discuss accommodations, interventions, and program modifications provided to the student in the classroom. The discussion must also address access to assistive technology currently available at the school site or district.

The IEP team should utilize the available resources within the team, conduct trials with existing materials or acquire systems and/or devices through creating them, borrowing or renting devices prior to the purchase of any new equipment when possible. Only after it is deemed appropriate based on trials and documentation that additional materials or equipment is needed should the team document that the materials and/or equipment are "required to benefit" for the student to succeed in the current educational program. The Special Factors page of the IEP provides information about whether the student requires AT and whether or not additional information is needed before proceeding. If the IEP team identifies the necessary AT, the IEP should indicate that and no further outreach steps are required.

The IEP team may determine that more targeted interventions are necessary for the student to access the curriculum, so they advance to Tier II. Tier II involves mid-tech solutions available at the district level. District Occupational Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, Psychologists, and Behaviorists might be among those implementing Tier II interventions. These are more targeting interventions, explicit instruction of the AT tool and ongoing progress monitoring. The IEP team may also decide to seek consultation from the COE AAC Specialist or the SELPA AT/AAC Expert panel to discuss a variety of resources and tools available for the IEP team to move forward; however, Tier II supports are provided by district specialists.

If the IEP team determines that Tier II (more intensive and individual interventions) might be required for the student to access the general curriculum, the COE AAC Specialist is available for AAC assessment. Following the assessment the COE AAC Specialist, along with the IEP team, will meet to determine the need for Tier III AAC solutions.

If you are moving forward with a COE AAC Specialist to complete the assessment, Please DO NOT SIGN AN ASSESSMENT PLAN until this packet is submitted and approved by the COE Special Education Director.

In summary, when the student's IEP team communicates a desire to expand the level of knowledge of AT/AAC to support the team in determining the student's strengths and needs, there are three options available within the Contra Costa SELPA.

  1. A referral to the Contra Costa County Office of Education AAC Specialist for consultation only via the COE Consult Request Form (found in SEIS Document library) specifically for augmentative and alternative communication only.
  2. A referral to the Contra Costa County Office of Education AAC Specialist for an AAC evaluation via the AAC-Augmentative and Alternative Communication Assessment Request Packet (found in the SEIS Document Library) specifically for augmentative and alternative communication only.
  3. A referral to the AT/AAC Expert Panel for consultation only via the Contra Costa SELPA Assistive Technology and Augmentative & Alternative Communication Consideration Packet (found in the SEIS Document Library) specifically for augmentative and alternative communication and assistive technology.

AAC District Specified Services
One option is to request individual consultation through the County Office of Education's (COE) Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) Specialist. Once the referral packet is complete (incomplete packets will be returned and may delay the process) the COE administrator assigns a Specialist to contact the case manager of the student and provide consultation. The
CCCOE AAC Specialist collaborates with site-based SLP to help the student's IEP team by:

  • Working with the team to develop and/or modify an AAC system
  • Training team members in AAC philosophies and methods (staff and parent-specific training)
  • Modeling the use of the AAC system with the student (to train staff and parents)
  • Creating and helping teams implement AAC Participation Plans

Consultation may consist of:

  • Obtaining pertinent information from the IEP team
  • Observing the student
  • Providing recommendations for next steps in relation to the student's communication needs

Some examples of when a consultation is appropriate:

  • Student has an AAC system or device and the IEP team needs guidance or training
  • Class has group of kids who require AAC and SLP/Teacher are unsure about whether they are implementing correctly or if they should do something differently
  • SLP has several AAC users and is unclear how to incorporate all devices into the group activity
  • Team needs guidance about programming new vocabulary
  • Specific details and referral forms are available in the SEIS Documents Library.

The second option is to request an AAC Assessment from the COE AAC Specialists. Augmentative and alternative communication is the use of different modalities of communication to support speech that is unintelligible or non-existent. Many students benefit from the addition of augmentative communication modes, which include picture communication symbols, photographs and other visuals, as well as speech generating devices.

Tier I and Tier II supports and interventions must be implemented by school based teams prior to submitting this packet. If teams feel they need additional support with Tier I & II interventions, they must complete and submit a Consultation Request (see form in SEIS). Alternatively, teams may want to consider the AT/AAC Expert Panel: A neutral multidisciplinary, Multi-Agency Panel Consultation to determine tools and strategies for implementing AAC and/or Assistive Technology. Specific details and referral forms are available in the SEIS Documents Library.

AT/AAC Panel
The third option is to request support from the AT/AAC Panel. This panel offers IEP teams a multi-agency collaborative effort of the Contra Costa, Mt. Diablo, San Ramon and West Contra Costa Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs), including the COE AAC Specialists along with representation from the California Children's Services (CCS) and other agencies as needed. The panel is comprised of professionals with special expertise in working with students who have disabilities that interfere with their ability to access the curriculum thereby requiring the use of assistive technology to access the curriculum or who are unable to use speech as their primary or sole means of communication.

The AT/AAC Panel uses a multidisciplinary approach; team members hold certifications in speech/language pathology, occupational therapy, psychology, and education. This team meets monthly to offer expertise through collaboration to staff and parents and is scheduled through the Contra Costa SELPA office. They provide facilitation, direction, recording and an action plan to assist the IEP team in narrowing options and developing next steps outside the IEP team process. Outcomes may include a direction for gathering more specific information, loaning equipment for trials using devices or programs prior to purchasing devices for a given student, or educating staff and/or parents during the decision making process.

Panel Meeting
If an AT/AAC Panel meeting is the desired direction, a meeting will be scheduled by the Contra Costa SELPA contact person who will contact the LEA service providers and parents.

At the meeting, a process is utilized to assist the school site staff and parents to identify the student's communication priorities and to strategize methods for addressing them. These meetings are informal and are not IEP meetings. An action plan is developed. The AT/AAC Panel does not make specific recommendations for services, equipment, or placement. Through implementing the action plan developed, trials may be conducted to help determine if a device is required for the student to benefit from his/her educational program.

Referral Process
The district service provider or case manager can access the referral packet in the SEIS Document Library. The AT/AAC Consideration Packet, including the release of information, most recent IEP and psychological report as well as all relevant related service provider evaluations are forwarded to the contact person at the Contra Costa SELPA, in order to move the process forward.

Through these processes, information is presented in the referral packet which includes: identifiable information (name, medical history, medical diagnosis, treatment history, and reason for referral), sensory status (vision/ hearing abilities & limitations), postural, mobility and motor status (seating, positioning, motor abilities and limitations, and access), and speech/language/communication. Current levels of functioning will be reviewed and recommendations made.

These options will identify the student's strengths and challenges and question the referring team about any AT/AAC system or device (including any low or high technology) which has already been considered or tried, to help in the delineation of features and/or specifications for an AT/AAC system or device. The intent of the panel is to review AT/AAC interventions that have already been explored and deemed ineffective for the student.

Following consultation or assessment through one of these processes, the IEP team may begin trials with various systems or devices that match the recommended features/specifications. If, and when, an AT/AAC system or device is determined appropriate to meet the student's needs, the IEP team will describe the specific AT/AAC features needed in his/her IEP.

Child Find & Identification

Updated September 2020

General Description
Child Find is a set of activities used to identify children from birth to 21 years old, inclusive (34 CFR § 300.125 34 CFR 300.451) who may need special education programs and services. Schools are required to locate, identify and evaluate all children with disabilities from birth through age 21. The Child Find mandate applies to all children who reside within a State, including children who attend private schools and public schools, highly mobile children, migrant children, homeless children, and children who are wards of the state. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)) This includes all children who are suspected of having a disability, including children who receive passing grades and are "advancing from grade to grade." (34 CFR 300.111(c)) The law does not require children to be "labeled" or classified by their disability. (20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(B); 34 CFR 300.111(d)).

Every SELPA and school district is required to have procedures in place to help locate students who may need special education services. Parents should contact either the SELPA office or their local school district if they have questions about referring a child for special education services. Each public school site within the SELPA has information on how to initiate a referral for special education services.

In addition, SELPAs, school districts or Local Education Agencies (LEA) conduct a variety of activities to "find children" who may be in need of special education services by using the following:

  • News media (annual submission by the SELPA for the districts)
    Presentation to community groups
  • LEA and Contra Costa SELPA publications and web sites
  • Dissemination to public/private agencies of lists of services available
  • Parent notices about programs available
  • Vision and hearing screening
  • Language and speech screening
  • Reading and mathematics screening by regular classroom teacher at his/her discretion
  • Standardized testing programs
  • Classroom screenings by special education staff

Search Procedures
Various means of communication shall be utilized in a continuing community awareness process including newspapers, television and posted public notices. The Contra Costa SELPA and member LEAs work closely with public agencies, such as Regional Center of the East Bay, Head Start, California Children's Center Services, Mental Health, and others as appropriate, in the identification of individuals with disabilities.

Student Study Team
The Student Study Team (SST) is a school site team established through general education to serve as a review process for students who encounter problems in the general education program. The team can use a systematic problem-solving approach to assist students who are not demonstrating satisfactory progress by using Response to Intervention (RTI). RTI is a process in which scientifically based interventions are provided, data is collected, and student progress is closely monitored. The Team may also organize resources, clarify issues and problems, establish accountability and make direct referrals to other support services. Composition of the Student Study Team should include parents and, if appropriate, students. All referrals for special education and related services must be documented, referral logs, results from student study teams, etc. and placed in student files. When an oral referral is made for special education district staff must offer assistance to individuals who need assistance to put their request in writing.

5 CCR 3021(a)
34 CFR §§300.101(c)-300.111-300.125-300.131-300.451
20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3))
20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(3)(B)

Confidentiality of Student Records

Updated July 2020

Each local education agency has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information, which is gathered on students in special education. The term "personally identifiable information" pertains to the name of the student, the student's parents or other family members, address of the student, the student's social security number or student number, and/or a list of personal characteristics or other information which would make it possible to identify the student with reasonable certainty.

The personal information in a student's record is confidential and protected. Student records include any personally identifiable information, whether written, recorded or electronic, which districts are required to keep or an employee maintains. Typically, confidential student records are located in the central office, school site office and special education classroom (teacher's file). All confidential files must be kept in a locked location. An access log must be kept in each file. A record must be kept indicating when and to whom access was given and when and to whom records were sent outside the district. A list of district personnel who routinely have access to student files must be posted in the room in which the files are located. All others must be identified in the file log prior to accessing file.

Special Education information and material to be included in the student record file:

1) Copies of IEPs
2) Assessment plans, reports
3) Communications to and from parents, including all mandatory notifications
4) Transition plans
5) Positive behavior management plans

Other non-required, personally identifiable student information, if kept in the student file, is subject to the same provisions of access, review and confidentiality as required student records.

Confidential records and/or information may be transferred between public schools and public school districts within the state of California without written permission by parent, guardian or student over 18 years of age. Records may be transferred by fax or email to appropriate personnel. Records may be shared with contracted vendors or Nonpublic Agencies/Nonpublic Schools who work with students as part of an IEP, without written permission of the parents.

Transfer of confidential records and/or information to either a public school or district outside of the state, a private school or any private or public agency in state or out of state, requires the written consent of the parent, guardian, or student over 18 years of age.

A parent or guardian has the right to inspect and review any education records relating to his/her student. A student who is sixteen years of age or older (or who has completed grade ten) has the same right to review records. With parent/guardian approval, a representative may also review a student's records. When parents request copies, the request must be granted within five days and the district may make a reasonable charge for copies not to exceed the actual cost. The right to inspect and review educational records may extend to electronically kept records, including email, as well as paper copies.

A parent may request that certain information in the file be removed or amended. If the district refuses to amend the records, the parent may write a dissenting statement to be included in the file and request a district level hearing to be held within 30 days.

Any test which renders an IQ score, or which could be understood to be a standardized intelligence test, may not be administered to African-American students and cannot be maintained as part of the student's records. If student records containing IQ scores for African-American students arrive from other states the scores and references to the categories into which they fall should be 'blacked out' before the records are distributed to staff.

The confidentiality provisions of IDEA and FERPA (Family Education Rights to Privacy Act) apply to report cards and transcripts, as well as special education information.

20 U.S.C. § 1232g; 34 CFR Part 99
IDEA PART B 20 U.S.C. 1400 and 34 CFR Part 3001



Without the agreement of the parents or a court order, a special education student may not be removed for more than 20 cumulative days in a school year or five consecutive days except under special circumstances (see below.). After 10 cumulative school days, an IEP meeting should be held and alternative educational services instituted.

Schools have an obligation to protect the health and safety of all students. Should there be a serious violation of conduct by a special education student, the same guidelines that apply to general education students should be used when deciding when to summon law enforcement officials to respond to the situation.

Under special circumstances a special education student who brings a weapon to school, knowingly possesses a controlled substance or inflicts serious bodily injury may be placed in an alternative educational placement for forty-five (45) days without parental concurrence.

Disciplinary removal is the removal of a student from ongoing instruction for adjustment purposes. Students are "removed" when they cannot continue to progress in the general curriculum and receive the services specified on their IEP and/ or participate with non-disabled children to the extent they would have in their current placement.

  • Removals may include:
    > In-school suspensions
    > Bus suspensions
    > Expulsions

A removal is a change of placement when it:

  • Is for more than 10 consecutive school days.
  • Is for more than 10 cumulative school days and constitutes a pattern. When determining if a pattern of removals is present the team should consider if the disciplinary violations are substantially similar to previous incidents resulting in removal, total amount of time the student has been removed and the proximity of the removals to each other.

Reasons for Removal
Disciplinary removals may be issued for:

  • Causing, attempting to cause or threatening to cause physical injury to another person, or willfully using force or violence on the person of another, except in self-defense.
  • Possessing, selling, furnishing, or using any firearm, knife, explosive or other dangerous object.
  • Possessing, selling, furnishing, using or being under the influence of any controlled substance, including alcohol or any intoxicant, including Soma.
  • Unlawfully offered, arranged, or negotiated to sell any controlled substance, alcohol or intoxicant, or otherwise furnished to a person another liquid, substance, or material and represented the liquid, substance, or material as a controlled substance, alcoholic beverage, or intoxicant.
  • Committing or attempting to commit robbery or extortion.
  • Causing or attempting to cause damage to school property or private property.
  • Stealing or attempting to steal school property or private property.
  • Possessing or using tobacco or products containing tobacco or nicotine.
  • Committing an obscene act or engaging in habitual profanity or vulgarity.
  • Unlawfully possessing or offering, negotiating, or negotiating to sell any drug paraphernalia.
  • Disrupting school activities or defying valid authority of school staff engaged in the performance of their duties.
  • Knowingly receiving stolen property or private property.
  • Possessing an imitation firearm.
  • Committing or attempting to commit a sexual assault or committing sexual battery.
  • Harassing, threatening, or intimidating a complaining witness or witnesses in a school disciplinary proceeding.
  • Robbery or extortion.
  • Engaged in or attempted to engage in hazing.
  • Engaged in an act of bullying, defined as any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act that can reasonably be predicted to place a student in fear of harm for himself or his property, experience substantially detrimental effects on physical or mental health, causes substantial interference with academic performance or experience substantial interference with ability to participate in or benefit from services, activities, or privileges provided by a school
  • Sexual harassment
  • Caused, attempted to cause, or participated in an act of hate violence.
  • Harassment severe enough to create a hostile educational environment.
  • Making terroristic threats

Length of Disciplinary Removals
In California, a school administrator may suspend a student who commits a serious offense for up to 5 days. The Superintendent or designee may extend the student's suspension so that the total number of days suspended does not exceed 10 consecutive school days. The extension of suspension may only be imposed if the Superintendent or designee has determined, following a meeting to which the student and the student's parent are invited to participate, that the presence of the student at the school or in an alternative school placement would cause a danger to persons or property or a threat of disrupting the instructional process. If the student or the student's parent requests a meeting to discuss the original suspension, the Superintendent may determine at that meeting whether to extend the suspension. Additionally, A teacher may suspend any pupil from class, for the day of the suspension and the day following. The teacher shall immediately report the suspension to the principal of the school and send the pupil to the principal or the designee of the principal for appropriate action.

The Superintendent may also decide to extend the suspension pending expulsion. Parents must be notified on the day this decision is made. They should be given a copy of their procedural due process rights at this time. The IEP team that meets to make the manifest determination does not expel students, nor do they recommend that students be expelled. The IEP team determines whether the student may be disciplined like a non-disabled student. Also note that regardless of the outcome of the Superintendent's decision and recommendation to the Board, IEP services to a student with a disability must begin on the eleventh day of removal.

Types of Disciplinary Removals

  • Removal Type 1 - Short-term removals of 10 days or fewer in a school year.
    • The same disciplinary procedures apply to special education students as to general education students.
    • A teacher or administrator may assign short-term removals without the concurrence of the parent and without having an IEP meeting.
    • The student has no right to educational services during the period(s) of removal.
    • LEA is only required to provide services if it provides services to non-disabled pupil who is similarly removed.
  • Removal Type 2 - Short-term removals of more than 10 cumulative days not constituting a change in placement.
    • General disciplinary rules apply in this situation, as well as special education provisions.
    • The student is entitled to educational services on the 11th day of suspension to enable the student to progress in the general curriculum and advance toward achieving IEP goals and objectives.
    • School personnel should consult with the special education service provider to determine the type of special education services to be provided to the student. These services must begin on the 11th day of suspension.
    • Within 10 days of the 11th day of suspension, an IEP team meeting must be held to determine if a behavior intervention plan needs to be instituted or changed. No manifest determination is required.
  • Removal Type 3 - Short-term removals of more than 10 cumulative days constituting a change in placement.
    • A removal is a change of placement if it is (1) for more than 10 consecutive school days; (2) for more than 10 cumulative days and constitutes a pattern because of proximity and total time removed, and similarity of infractions and lengths of time removed.
    • For this type of removal, the student is entitled to educational services on the 11th day of removal.
    • An IEP team must determine the scope of services to be provided.
    • The IEP team must also determine if the infraction is a manifestation of the student's disability, and if a behavioral intervention plan must be instituted or changed. This IEP meeting must be held within 10 days of the 11th day of removal. Please note that the IEP team does not recommend students for expulsion. The team determines if the student may be disciplined like a non-disabled student. Only the school board on the recommendation of the superintendent may expel a student.
  • Removal Type 4 - Long-term removals of more than 10 consecutive days.
    • The provisions in #3 (above) apply.
    • In addition, the IEP team may assign the student to an interim alternative education setting (IAES) if the infraction involved carrying a weapon to or at school, knowingly possessing, using or selling controlled substances at school or school functions or infliction of serious bodily harm on a person at school or at a school function.
    • Note that the 10-day requirement for holding an IEP is not waived for students who are incarcerated for their infractions. The IEP meeting must be held, with services or placements to commence upon the student's release.

Behavioral Interventions
For disciplinary removals of Types 2, 3, or 4 (above), an IEP team meeting must be held within 10 days of the 11th day of removal to address behavioral issues. If there is no existing behavioral intervention plan, the IEP team must conduct a functional behavioral assessment (FBA). If a behavior intervention plan (BIP) already has been developed, review the BIP and modify it as necessary to address the behavior. This is a federal requirement. The functional behavioral assessment can be conducted by reviewing existing data, or by developing an assessment plan to gather new information. If there is an existing behavioral intervention plan, the IEP team must determine if modifications to this plan are required.

Functional Behavior Assessment

  • Specifies amount and locations for observations
  • Requires medical, social and environmental information
  • May require observation and information from other settings
  • Requires description & frequency of alternate behaviors

Manifest Determination
The school staff must review the relationship between the student's disability and the behavior subject to the disciplinary action to determine whether the infraction was a manifestation of the disability. This meeting must be held within 10 school days after the decision to impose a removal that constitutes a change of placement (removal Types 3 and 4). LEAs need to conduct a new manifest determination each time it proposes suspending a student for the same type of conduct. It must be held each time a student: 1. Removed for more than 10 consecutive days and 2. Short term removals that constitute a change of placement (e.g. "patterns" of removals). The team must include qualified personnel who have information on the needs of the student as determined by the district and parent. The team must consider all relevant information, including:

  • Information supplied by the parents
  • Observations of the student
  • The student's IEP and current placement
  • Any teacher observations
  • The student's IEP

The team must use the above information to determine if the conduct in question:

  • Was caused by, or had a direct and substantial relationship to the student's disability; or
  • Was a direct result of the district's failure to implement the IEP


Manifestation Determination Finding
If the team determines that:
Either of the above conditions was true, then the student's behavior was a manifestation of his or her disability, and the student may not be disciplined and the student will return to the placement from which the student was removed, unless the parent and the school district agree to a change of placement as part of the modification of the behavioral intervention plan. The team must review any existing Behavior Intervention Plan and make adjustments or conduct a Functional Behavior Analysis to create a Behavior Intervention Plan if one is not already in place.

Neither of the above conditions was true, then the student's behavior was not a manifestation of his or her disability, the student may be disciplined in the same manner as a student without disabilities, including placing the student in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting.

Interim Alternative Education Settings
The IEP Team may place a student in an Interim Alternative Education Setting (IAES) for up to 45 school days if the conduct subject to discipline is determined not to be a manifestation of his or her disability, or under special circumstances, without making any determination of manifestation. Placement in the IAES must enable the student to continue to progress in the general curriculum and provide the special education services necessary to address the existing special education goals. In addition, the IAES must provide services and modifications that address the misconduct and are designed to prevent the behavior from recurring. LEA may place a student in IAES more than once during the same school year, however, cannot unilaterally extend 45 day IAES placements. Additionally, IAES removals may carry over to the next school year, if made when there are fewer than 45 school days remaining in the current school year.

IAES Placement under Special Circumstances
In order for the District to place a student in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting without first determining if the conduct was a manifestation of a disability, the conduct in question must meet one of the following criteria:

  • The student carries or possesses a weapon to or at school, on school premises, or to or at a school function under the jurisdiction of any State or local educational agency. A weapon is defined as any weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, animate or inanimate, that is used for, or is readily capable of, causing death or serious bodily injury, but not including a pocket knife with a blade of less than 2 ½ inches in length.
  • The student knowingly possesses or uses illegal drugs or sells a controlled substance while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of a State or local educational agency. An illegal drug is defined as a controlled substance but does not include a controlled substance that is legally possessed or under the supervision of a licensed health-care professional or that is legally possessed or under any other authority of the Controlled Substances Act or any other provision of Federal law. A controlled substance is defined as a drug or other substance identified under schedule I,II,III, IV, or V in section 202© of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812(c)).
  • The student inflicts serious bodily injury upon another person while at school, on school premises, or at a school function under the jurisdiction of a State or local educational agency. Serious bodily injury is defined as a bodily injury which involves a substantial risk of death, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ or mental faculty.

Appeal of Team Decision
The parent of a student with a disability may request an expedited due process hearing if he/she disagrees with the manifestation determination or with the placement in an Interim Alternative Educational Setting. The Office of Administrative Hearings will hear the case within 20 days. While the parent's due process hearing request is pending resolution, the student will remain in his or her interim alternative educational placement until a decision by the administrative law judge or until the expiration of the disciplinary placement, whichever occurs first, unless the parent and the District agree otherwise. The Hearing Officer will determine whether the student remains in the Interim Alternative Educational Setting or returns to the placement from which he or she was removed.

Discipline of Students Not Yet Eligible for Special Education Services
A student who has not been determined to be a student with special needs and who engaged in a behavior subject to disciplinary removal may assert IDEA protections if the district had knowledge that the student was disabled before the behavior occurred. The district shall be deemed to have knowledge that the student had a disability if one of the following conditions exists:

  • The parent or guardian had expressed concern in writing, to supervisory or administrative personnel, or to a teacher of the student that the student was in need of special education or related services; and
  • The parent or guardian had requested an initial evaluation of the student for special education pursuant to federal law; or
  • The teacher of the student or other district personnel has expressed specific concern about a pattern of behavior demonstrated by the student to the district's Director of Special Education or to other supervisory personnel.

The district would be deemed to not have knowledge, as specified above, if the parent or guardian had not allowed an initial evaluation of the student or had refused services, or if the student had been evaluated and it was determined that the student was not a child with a disability.
If it is determined that the district did not have knowledge that the student was disabled prior to taking disciplinary action against the student, then the student shall be disciplined in accordance with procedures established for students without disabilities.

If a request is made for an evaluation of a student during the time period in which the student is subject to disciplinary measures, the evaluation will be conducted in an expedited manner. Until the evaluation is completed, the student will remain in the educational placement determined by the school authorities. If the student is found to be not eligible for special education services, the parent may file for due process to contest the decision, but the student continues to be subject to disciplinary measures as a student without special needs.

Disciplinary Removals of Section 504 Students
Students considered disabled under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 are entitled to the same disciplinary protections as students who are eligible for special education. Districts must maintain a formal written policy for discipline of Section 504 students, along with other Section 504 policies. Appeals of Manifestation Determination decisions and placement decisions may be made according to district guidelines for 504 students.

EC 48925
EC 48900.2
EC 48900.4
EC 48900.7
EC 48910
EC 48911
CFR 300.530
CFR 300.50420 USC1415

Dispute Resolution

Updated 9/11/17

When a disagreement or dispute arises between the parent(s)/guardian(s) and the school district, it is to the advantage of both parties to resolve the dispute at the lowest level and in a timely manner. Special Education Administrators and parent(s)/guardian(s) can anticipate that when a hearing request or complaint is filed at the state level, the SELPA is available to offer Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) services to both parties. Our goal is to remain focused on the needs of the student while offering supports to parents and district administrators. It is important to note that parent(s)/guardian(s) have the right to request an impartial due process hearing regarding the identification, assessment, and educational placement of their child or the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE. Parents may also file a state compliance complaint when they believe that a school district has violated federal or state special education laws or regulations. Within sixty days after a complaint is filed the California Department of Education will carry out an independent investigation.

Procedural Safeguards
The law gives us the responsibility for ensuring that a parent not only receives their rights but also is trained and understands them. We should provide a copy, reference their existence and reinforce their meaning at every opportunity. We should document at each IEP meeting that the Notice of Procedural Safeguards/Special Education Rights of Parents and Children were reviewed, or that the parents declined the district's offer to review them.

Basic Components of Procedural Safeguards

Parent Rights

  • Notification
  • Records Review
  • Confidentiality
  • Evaluation Procedures
  • Participation in Meetings
  • Informed Consent
  • Due Process

Student Rights

  • Assessment in Primary Language
  • Participation in Meetings
  • Free Appropriate Public Education
  • Placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  • Due Process up to three years after leaving public education


Alternative Dispute Resolution
The Contra Costa SELPA Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program grew from a commitment to a partnership with families of students with special needs. We believe that disputes are best resolved by the people involved in them. Turning decision making power over to a third party causes both families and districts to abdicate responsibility for program improvement. The Contra Costa SELPA offers a variety of options which allow the parties directly involved in the dispute the opportunity to create a mutual and long-lasting agreement. In addition to the cost and time savings, relationships between the parent and district are maintained or even enhanced. The ADR program continues to grow with additional options for informal mediation and personal skills development in communication and mediation.

Factors Conributing to Disputes:

  People hold different points of view and their needs appear to be incompatible
  People don't believe it is possible to reach agreement
  Each participant or side advocates for its position in a win/lose fashion

The options described below may be available to respond to the needs and concerns raised by a conflict.

Resource Parents
Resource parents who are sanctioned by the district and trained by the SELPA provide parent-to-parent support. Parents of students with special needs volunteer to provide support and facilitate communication as Resource Parents. They also assist SELPA and districts with parent-professional collaborative efforts to improve services. After participation in twelve hours of training in communication, problem solving, the IEP process and role definition, Resource Parents are available to serve school districts. They provide consultation to other parents and may attend IEP meetings when requested. If a district does not have available trained Resource Parents, they can identify individuals to participate in the SELPA Resource Parent Training. Trained Resource Parents can be reached through the special education office in each district, or call the SELPA office for a current list.

Program Specialists
Program specialists employed by the SELPA assist Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and parents in securing appropriate placements for students. Out-of-district placements, staff development, preparation for transition, and service to students are their primary functions. Program Specialists are trained in the fundamentals of ADR, communication, collaboration, and relationship building. They utilize these skills at the IEP level. Their experience as credentialed special education providers is valuable to the parents and school staff in planning and placement.
The program specialist provides a placement bridge between program providers. Program specialists can conduct Facilitated IEPs when the IEP process needs a more formal structure and a neutral person to assure the process is followed.

Dispute Resolution Coordinator
The SELPA Dispute Resolution Coordinator is available to districts and parents for consultation around a variety of issues relating to assessment, identification, placement and services to individuals with exceptional needs. The Coordinator can also provide technical support and assistance to districts in working more effectively with students and families. If parents are not successful in reaching a satisfactory agreement at the site level and have already contacted the director of special education in their district or the SELPA program specialist, they may call (925) 827-0949 x24 to speak to the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution for Contra Costa SELPA. The Coordinator will use the information provided to determine which ADR activity or resource would best address the situation.

Facilitated IEP Meetings (FIEP)
A Facilitated IEP places additional ground rules on the participants and requires open, receptive participation of the of all team members. A facilitated IEP meeting is one in which an IEP is developed by a collaborative team whose members share responsibility for the meeting process and results. Decision-making is managed through the use of essential facilitation skills. The process of facilitation enables the team to build and improve strong relationships among team members, reach true consensus, focus the IEP content and process on the student.


What are Facilitated IEP meetings?

  • FIEP meetings utilize a specific format and a trained facilitator to guide IEP teams in developing an appropriate, compliant, and effective IEP.
  • FIEP meetings maximize collaborative, consensus-based decisions that focus on the needs of the child.
  • FIEP meetings are designed to improve interaction, participation, and relationships between parents and educators that benefit the child.


What will happen in Facilitated IEP meetings?

  • The facilitator will assist the team in setting and prioritizing an agenda, and honoring it.
  • The facilitator will focus attention on the strengths and needs of the student.
  • The facilitator will assure that all the necessary components of an IEP are included.
  • The facilitator will encourage the full participation of each IEP team member and assure that their contributions are considered.
  • The facilitator will manage the communication to avoid emotional conflicts and irrelevant review of non-IEP issues.
  • The IEP Team will develop a consensus-based plan for the student that both the family and the district will support.


How do I get a trained facilitator for an IEP meeting?

  • Contact your SELPA program specialist first. If they cannot facilitate the meeting, call the SELPA Coordinator for Dispute Resolution who has a list of all persons in the SELPA who have been trained in the Essential Facilitation for the IEP Meeting Process method. ADR Coordinator: 925-827-0949 x24.


Solutions Panel
Solutions Panels are available to assist districts and parents in reaching a mutually agreeable solution. A Panel is composed of 2 to 4 trained facilitators (usually parents, administrators, service providers and community representatives) who volunteer their time to assist parents and districts. There is no cost to either district or parent and the panel can usually be in place within two weeks from the time of the request. This has proven to be a more cost-effective approach to settling disputes than formal, state-level due process hearings. Panel can be used either before or after a Due Process Hearing has been requested by either party. The Solutions Panel process is more satisfying than legal action. It is faster than due process and less costly than other dispute resolution methods. Panels are scheduled to be convenient for both parties. All matters are confidential. Agreements signed by both parties are legally binding. It is the goal of the process to develop a collaborative working relationship between parents and district personnel.

What happens at a Solutions Panel Meeting?

  • The panel members describe the process and the "ground rules."
  • The parent describes the concerns, uninterrupted by the district, using as much time as necessary. The panel members ask questions for clarification.
  • The district representative describes the district's concerns, uninterrupted by the parent, using as much time as necessary. The panel members ask questions for clarification.
  • The panel members ask each party to describe the other party's position as they understand it. Panel members or the other party may clarify as necessary to make sure that both parties fully understand
  • the other's interests and concerns.
  • Panel members assist the parties to "brainstorm" possible solutions or contributions.
  • Panel members assist the parties to select options that they could agree to.
  • Panel members assist the parties to write an agreement that will become binding when signed.

Administrative File Review
SELPA staff will conduct an administrative file review at the request of a district or parent. The review provides a structured evaluation of the chronological facts and required documentation in a student's file. The goal is for the SELPA to provide insight into any procedural errors that may affect a student's right to a free, appropriate, public education, and to give the district or parents information on how to remedy the situation. The SELPA staff does not offer legal advice to either parents or districts, but may direct the parties to seek technical advice from attorneys when necessary.

Resolution Meetings
The reauthorization of IDEA 2004 added an opportunity for districts to meet with parents following the filing of a request for due process hearing and prior to the hearing itself. The resolution meeting is the district's opportunity to clarify and understand the parent's position in the case and develop an offer that may eliminate the need for the hearing. The meeting must be scheduled within 15 days of receipt of the filing and should include only the individuals relevant to solving the problem. Parents may bring an attorney if they choose. Districts may not bring an attorney unless the parents indicate that they will bring an attorney. Parents cannot "waive" this meeting, but they may request that it not be held. If the district agrees with this request, the meeting is not required. At the request of the district, Contra Costa SELPA will provide a trained facilitator to assist with the meeting. The facilitator will require the district to provide a copy of the Due Process Hearing Request and a copy of the district's response in advance of the meeting. From these documents, the facilitator will construct a visual representation of the allegations, the requested remedy for each allegation, and the district's response to each. At the meeting, the facilitator will review the points and ask for any clarification or elaboration on each point. When that is complete, the facilitator will ask the parent and the district to prioritize the lists of allegations and remedies and look for areas where issues can be resolved prior to hearing. If agreements can be reached, they will be written and signed. IEP issues will be remanded to an IEP meeting for review and remedy. The written agreement can be voided by the parents within 3 days if they choose.

Did You Remember to Include in Your Written Agreement
  • Effective dates?
  • Agreement on assessment?
  • Agreement on goals?
  • Agreement on services?
  • Agreement on placement, including extended year?
  • Agreement on compensatory services? (if discussed)
  • Agreement on reimbursements? (if discussed)
  • Agreement that settlement resolves all claims, or list of things that are not settled?
  • Agreement on how communication regarding changes in program will be handled?
  • Agreement that settlement has been read, understood and voluntarily signed by both parties

The district must notify the Office of Administrative Hearings of the Resolution Meeting outcome as soon as it becomes valid. The OAH has a form for this.

Issues that are not resolved in this meeting will move forward to state mediation and possibly a Due Process Hearing.

20 USC 1414(a)(1)(D)(i)(l)
20 USC 1415(b)(6)
34 CFR 300.504
34 CFR 300.152
EC 56500.1
34 CFR 300.300

Guide for the Early Intervention Program
(Part C: Infant Services)

Updated 2/12/18

The Early Intervention Program is a federally funded family-centered program for infants and toddlers (birth to thirty-six months) with developmental delays or as severe disabling conditions that include hearing impairments, vision impairments, and severe orthopedic impairments, or any combination thereof. The intent of the program is to develop and implement a comprehensive, coordinated, interagency system of early intervention services. In Contra Costa County, the program is operated under an agreement between the Regional Center of the East Bay and the Contra Costa SELPA.

Service Coordination and Interagency Agreements
Under Part C, participating LEAs would be responsible for providing and/or coordinating the provision of early intervention to infants and toddlers and their families. The LEAs are mandated to serve all children who have a low incidence condition as their sole handicapping condition. LEAs may also serve children with other developmental delays (not low incidence) up to the level of their funded capacity, provided those children meet special education eligibility. Children with other developmental delays would be referred to the Regional Center of the East Bay for service, once the LEA has reached its funded capacity.

Service Coordination is an early intervention service and must be provided under public supervision. The role of the Service Coordinator is to facilitate implementation of the Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) and to coordinate services with other agencies and persons. The Service Coordinator must be knowledgeable about eligible infant and toddler programs, Part C law and regulations and the nature and scope of services under Part C of I.D.E.A.

Referrals to the Early Start Program may be made by parents, health providers or the Regional Center. Upon receiving notice of a new referral, the service coordinator will contact the parent to begin the intake process. With parent permission, the referral information is shared between the Regional Center and the SELPA Early Start systems to allow collaboration and avoid duplication of services.

Eligibility Criteria
An infant or toddler shall be eligible for intervention services from birth to 36 months of age if he/she meets one of the following criteria as determined by means of evaluation:

(1) has a developmental delay in either cognitive, communication, social or emotional, adaptive, or physical and motor development including vision and hearing and is under 24 months of age at the time of referral, with a 33% delay in one or more areas of development or,
(2) 24 months of age or older at the time of referral, with a 50% delay in one area of development or a 33% delay in two or more areas of development; or,
(3) has an established risk condition of known etiology, with a high probability of resulting in delayed development (California Government Code, Section 95014(a)).

Under California Education Code 56425, LEAs are responsible for providing Early Start Part C services to infants and toddlers with Solely Low Incidence (SLI) Disabilities, defined as severe disabling conditions that include hearing impairments, vision impairments, and severe orthopedic impairments, or any combination thereof.

Evaluation and Assessment
The determination of eligibility shall be made by a multidisciplinary team of appropriately qualified personnel from the Regional Center or LEA with participation of the parent.
Evaluation and initial assessments of each infant or toddler shall be completed within 45 days of the Regional Center's or LEA's receipt of the referral.

The evaluation consists of two phases: The determination of eligibility and the assessment for service planning. Qualified personnel conduct these evaluations based on age appropriate procedures, review of diagnostic medical information, observations, standardized test if appropriate, and informed clinical judgments. Infants with solely low incidence disabilities will be evaluated by specifically qualified personnel in the area of suspected disability. The infant will be assessed for service planning in five areas:
1. cognitive development
2. physical development and health
3. communication
4. social/emotional development
5. adaptive development.

These assessments will be directed toward determining the infant or toddler's unique strengths and needs, and the services or strategies appropriate to meet those needs. The assessments will be conducted in the language of the family's choice, and in natural environments whenever possible. Qualified staff will also assess the family's resources, priorities and concerns related to enhancing the development of the infant or toddler.

Individualized Family Service Plan Meeting
A meeting to develop an initial IFSP will be convened for each eligible infant and will include the parent, service coordinator and assessment staff. Other family members are welcome to attend. A translator will be provided if necessary.

At this meeting, the IFSP document is completed. The IFSP consists of:
1. A statement of the family's resources, priorities and concerns related to enhancing the development of the infant;
2. A statement of the infant's or toddler's present levels of development in each of the areas assessed, based on measured evidence;
3. A statement of the major outcomes expected for the infant along with the criteria, procedures and timelines used;
4. A statement of the expected outcomes for the family when services for the family are related to meeting the special developmental needs of the infant;
5. A statement of the specific early intervention services necessary to meet the unique needs of the infant and family.

This information is recorded on forms developed by the Regional Center of the East Bay and approved by all of the SELPAs in Contra Costa and Alameda Counties. Parents must sign their consent for the IFSP on these forms before services can be provided.

Provision of Service
Early intervention services required under Part C for low incidence eligible children may include special instruction, assistive technology (including devices or services), audiology, family training, counseling and home visits, health services necessary for a child to benefit from other early intervention services, medical services for diagnosis and evaluation only, nursing services, nutrition services, occupational and physical therapy, psychological services, respite services, service coordination (case management), social work services, speech-language services, transportation and vision services. The service coordinator or provider may also assist the family in locating non-required services such as employment, child care, housing, immunizations, marital counseling or substance abuse programs. For dually eligible children served by the LEA and the Regional Center, the LEA is responsible only for provision of assessments, special education and related services, and service coordination.

Early Start services are provided on a schedule that is convenient for the family and addresses family priorities. If services cannot be provided in the natural environment of the infant or toddler, the IFSP document must include an explanation of why they must be provided elsewhere.

Infants and toddlers are eligible for services provided by the LEA when;
1. they have a solely low incidence disability and do not have another delay or disability that would make them eligible for Regional Center services.

Procedures for Review
A periodic review of the IFSP shall be conducted every six months, or more frequently if conditions warrant. The purpose of the review is to determine the degree to which progress is being made and whether modification of the IFSP is necessary. The periodic review may be conducted in a meeting or another means that is acceptable to the parents, such as a phone call. Documentation that the review has been conducted will be entered in the record.

An annual meeting to review the IFSP will be conducted, using the same provisions for notice and consent as in the initial IFSP, to measure outcomes and determine what services are necessary.

Transition to Preschool
All children receiving Early Start services are potentially eligible for LEA special education and related services at age three. The Early Start service coordinator shall notify the LEA where the toddler resides that there will be a Transition IFSP and conference, requiring the attendance of an LEA representative to establish a transition plan in the IFSP not fewer than 90 days before the toddler's third birthday in accordance with 34 CFR 303.209 and 303.344.

The purpose of transition is to begin planning for service options as the individual with exceptional needs approaches age 3 (no later than 36 months of age). The child who is served by either an LEA or Regional Center shall have the benefit of transition planning from Part C infant services program to educational services operated by an LEA under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.

To ensure the transition of a toddler to preschool services, under Part B or other services that may be available, the Regional Center and/or the LEA shall participate in a joint transition planning meeting to be held not less than ninety (90) days or no more than six months before the child reaches age three. For any child referred to the Infant Program after age two years, six months, the initial IFSP may also be the Transition IFSP and shall include appropriate LEA staff. For any child referred to the Infant Program after age two years, ten months or more, the LEA responsible for Part B services will accept direct referral for educational evaluation, assessment, and recommendations for Part B, IDEA. The following transition steps must be addressed at the Transition IFSP:
1. Discussions with parents regarding the transition to special education for a toddler with a disability who may be eligible for Part B services.
2. Steps to prepare the toddler for change in service delivery, including steps to help the toddler adjust to, and function in, a new setting.
3. Discussion about appropriate date for notification/referral to district at least 90 days prior to the third birthday.
4. Identification of the assessment process and timelines A plan for a joint meeting of the IEP and IFSP teams prior to the toddler's third birthday to review the outcomes of early intervention services and to determine the eligibility and program plan for a child who may be eligible for special education and related services.
5. Procedures which ensure that there is no lag in service transition to the LEA.

Procedural Safeguards
In order to protect the infant or toddler's rights under Part C, the parent has a right to prior notice before any action, including assessment, is taken.
In addition, IDEA Part C guarantees that parents have the right to the following:

  • A plan: Parents have the right to participate collaboratively in the process of developing an Individualized Family Service Plan. The plan outlines the specific services and supports that the child and family will receive.
  • Services provided in a timely manner: Parents have the right to an evaluation and assessment of their infant or toddler's functioning and has a right to a meeting to develop the IFSP within forty-five (45) days after they are referred. The plan must be reviewed every six months.
  • Grant permission: Parents have the right to approve or disapprove before their child is evaluated or receives any services. Parents have the right to decline services at any point.
  • Confidentiality: No information which is personally identifiable about a family may be released by an agency serving them without the written approval of the family, except as mandated by state law.
  • Assistance and Support: Parents may include other participants, such as family members or other individuals familiar with the needs of the child in the development and implementation of early intervention services at the IFSP meeting.
  • Evaluation and Assessment: Parents have the right to participate, as members of the multidisciplinary team, in the process of evaluation and assessment. Appropriately qualified personnel from the regional center or local education agency determine eligibility for services with input from parents.
  • Service Coordination: Parents have the right to a service coordinator who assists them in understanding how the system works and obtaining appropriate early intervention services. The service coordinator will work with the family to assure implementation of the IFSP and to access needed services in a timely, efficient manner.
  • Information: Parents have the right to understandable information about the early intervention system and the services provided, information on and copies of all test results and records concerning their child. This information must be provided in the primary language or mode of communication whenever possible.
  • Disagree: Parents have the right to disagree with decisions made regarding evaluation for eligibility, assessment results, or services. If parents disagree or are not satisfied with services, they may engage in a process of informal problem solving and/or formal administrative proceedings.

Informal Procedures
Contra Costa SELPA Dispute Resolution Coordinator
The Contra Costa SELPA Dispute Resolution Coordinator is available to districts and parents for consultation around a variety of issues relating to assessment, identification, placement and services to individuals with exceptional needs. The Coordinator can also provide technical support and assistance to districts in working more effectively with students and families. If parents are not successful in reaching a satisfactory agreement at the site level and have already contacted the director of special education in their district or the SELPA program specialist, they may call (925) 827-0949 x 24 to speak to the Coordinator of Dispute Resolution for Contra Costa SELPA. The Coordinator will use the information provided to determine which ADR activity or resource would best address the situation.

Locally the CARE Parent Network provides assistance and information to parents of infants and toddlers with special needs. Parents with questions or need for support should be referred to their Martinez office. Their phone number is (925) 313-0999. Their services are free of charge and they have Spanish-speaking staff.

Formal Procedures
The California Department of Developmental Services offers a formal complaint procedure to parents that allege that an implementing agency has violated federal or state law governing the provision of appropriate early intervention services. The service coordinator will provide information and assistance to any individual or organization that has filed a written complaint. Within 60 days following the submission of a complaint, the Department of Developmental Services will carry out an investigation, review all relevant information, provide a written decision to all parties, and inform the complainant that they may appeal the final decision to the U.S. Secretary of Education.

Mediation and Due Process Procedures
A parent may request a mediation conference and/or a due process hearing if (A) the LEA proposes or refuses to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, assessment, placement or provision of appropriate early intervention services, or (B) the LEA refuses to remove or amend a document in a record which the parent believes is inaccurate or misleading or violates the privacy or rights of the infant or toddler. The Regional Center or the LEA may request a due process hearing when the parent refuses to consent to an evaluation and assessment of the infant or toddler. A request for either a mediation or a due process hearing must be made in writing and filed with the Office of Administrative Hearings. The service coordinator may help the parent with the written request if necessary. Mediation or a Due process hearing will take place within thirty (30) days and will be held at a time and place convenient to the parents. During this period, the services currently being provided to the infant or toddler not in dispute will be continued.

A mediation conference is recommended to resolve disagreements between the parent and the LEA prior to going to Due Process Hearing. This conference will be conducted by an impartial, knowledgeable person under contract with the Department of Developmental Services. The matter being mediated will proceed to a due process hearing if either party waives mediation or if mediation fails in whole or in part.

If the matter proceeds to a Due Process Hearing, the Hearing Officer will examine the information, reach a resolution that is in compliance with federal and state law, and mail a written decision to each party within 30 days of receipt of the due process hearing request.
At the due process hearing, the parent has the right to knowledgeable counsel, to present evidence, to call witnesses and to cross-examine witnesses. Evidence must be disclosed to and by the parent five days before the proceeding. Following the hearing a written or electronic transcript of the proceedings will be available and a written decision must be sent to the parent.

California Government Code, Section 95014(a))
EC 56425
34 CFR §§ 303.209-303.344

Educational Rights

Updated July 2020

Parents have the right to make educational decisions for their minor child unless the child is in legal guardianship, has been freed for adoption, or the court has specifically limited the parents' educational rights.

Since schools are required to get parent consent for assessments and services for children with special needs, situations arise in which the school may be unsure who holds educational rights for the child. In these cases, the school personnel should:

  1. Assume that the natural parents share educational rights, unless you have been provided with information to the contrary. This information must be in the form of a legal document from a court officer (a divorce decree listing "educational rights" or "all rights" to one party, a document naming another person as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), or a written document from the natural parent stating that they have assigned educational rights to another responsible adult. If you have not received one of these documents but have reason to believe the natural parent does not have educational rights, ask for documentation before proceeding.

  2. 2. Parents are not prevented from designating another adult individual to represent the interests of the child for educational and related services.

  3. If the information described above is not available and the natural parents cannot be contacted, school personnel should appoint a responsible adult as a Surrogate Parent for the purposes of approving special education assessments and services. The law requires the district to appoint: (a) relative caregivers, (b) foster parents, and (c) CASAs if available. If none are available, the school can select the surrogate of its choice, as long as that person does not have a conflict of interest. A "conflict of interest" is usually defined as having any interest that might bias his or her ability to advocate for all of the services required to ensure a free appropriate public education Thus, a paid employee of a non-public school, for example, would not fill the conditions of a Surrogate Parent. Please refer to the "Parents as Partners" section for more information regarding the appointment of a surrogate parent.

  4. Act in a timely manner to proceed with the assessment and IEP. The need for a Surrogate Parent should not delay the Special Education timelines.


Updated 6/21/18

Special Education Eligibility
The determination of special education eligibility is based on the results of an assessment where no single test or single observer is the sole determining factor. According to Section 3030 of Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, a student qualifies as an individual with special needs if the results of the assessment demonstrate that the degree of the student's impairment requires special education and related services. The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, including assessment personnel, shall determine whether the assessment results demonstrate that the degree of the student's disability requires special education and related services. The Local Education Agency must assure that the student's academic needs cannot be met through interventions and supports available in the regular education program and that the disability, even with general education interventions and supports adversely affects the individual's educational performance.

All areas of suspected disability must be assessed. There shall be further documentation that race, cultural differences, economic disadvantage, language background, limited school experience and poor attendance are not primary contributing factors to the results of the assessment. The IEP team will determine eligibility, present levels of performance, and areas of need that will help the team identify goals that address each area of need. Goals and (objectives if required) will be supported by appropriate services in the least restrictive environment as determined by the IEP Team in order for the child to receive educational benefit.

Three factors must be considered when determining the needs of the student:

  • Does the student meet the eligibility criteria as an individual with a disability?
  • Does the severity of the disability have an adverse effect on the student's educational performance?
  • Does the student require specially designed instruction to achieve a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE)?

Eligibility criteria are identified in thirteen federal classifications. Students meet eligibility under any one these federal classifications. (34 C.F.R. Part 300.8) Eligibility Categories:

  • Autism
  • Deaf/Blindness
  • Deafness
  • Emotional Disturbance
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment, including Blindness

The eligibility categories and their definitions are listed below:

5 CCR § 3030 § 3030. Eligibility Criteria. (a) A child shall qualify as an individual with exceptional needs, pursuant to Education Code section 56026, if the results of the assessment as required by Education Code section 56320 demonstrate that the degree of the child's impairment as described in subdivisions (b)(1) through (b)(13) requires special education in one or more of the program options authorized by Education Code section 56361. The decision as to whether or not the assessment results demonstrate that the degree of the child's impairment requires special education shall be made by the IEP team, including personnel in accordance with Education Code section 56341(b). The IEP team shall take into account all the relevant material which is available on the child. No single score or product of scores shall be used as the sole criterion for the decision of the IEP team as to the child's eligibility for special education. (b) The disability terms used in defining an individual with exceptional needs are as follows:

Autism means a developmental disability significantly affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age three, and adversely affecting a child's educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences. Autism does not apply if a child's educational performance is adversely affected primarily because the child has an emotional disturbance, as defined in subdivision (b)(4) of this section. A child who manifests the characteristics of autism after age three could be identified as having autism if the criteria in subdivision (b)(1) of this section are satisfied.

Deaf-blindness means concomitant hearing and visual impairments, the combination of which causes such severe communication and other developmental and educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for children with deafness or children with blindness.

Deafness means a hearing impairment that is so severe that the child is impaired in processing linguistic information through hearing, with or without amplification that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Emotional disturbance means a condition exhibiting one or more of the following characteristics over a long period of time and to a marked degree that adversely affects a child's educational performance: (A) An inability to learn that cannot be explained by intellectual, sensory, or health factors. (B) An inability to build or maintain satisfactory interpersonal relationships with peers and teachers. (C) Inappropriate types of behavior or feelings under normal circumstances. (D) A general pervasive mood of unhappiness or depression. (E) A tendency to develop physical symptoms or fears associated with personal or school problems. (F) Emotional disturbance includes schizophrenia. The term does not apply to children who are socially maladjusted, unless it is determined that they have an emotional disturbance under subdivision (b)(4) of this section.

Hearing impairment means an impairment in hearing, whether permanent or fluctuating, that adversely affects a child's educational performance but that is not included under the definition of deafness in this section. (6)

Intellectual disability means significantly subaverage general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period that adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Multiple disabilities means concomitant impairments, such as intellectual disability blindness or intellectual disability-orthopedic impairment, the combination of which causes such severe educational needs that they cannot be accommodated in special education programs solely for one of the impairments. "Multiple disabilities" does not include deaf-blindness.

Orthopedic impairment means a severe orthopedic impairment that adversely affects a child's educational performance. The term includes impairments caused by a congenital anomaly, impairments caused by disease (e.g., poliomyelitis, bone tuberculosis), and impairments from other causes (e.g., cerebral palsy, amputations, and fractures or burns that cause contractures).

Other health impairment means having limited strength, vitality, or alertness, including a heightened alertness to environmental stimuli, that results in limited alertness with respect to the educational environment that: (A) Is due to chronic or acute health problems such as asthma, attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, diabetes, epilepsy, a heart condition, hemophilia, lead poisoning, leukemia, nephritis, rheumatic fever, sickle cell anemia, and Tourette syndrome; and (B) Adversely affects a child's educational performance.

Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may have manifested itself in the imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia. The basic psychological processes include attention, visual processing, auditory processing, sensory-motor skills, cognitive abilities including association, conceptualization and expression.
Specific learning disabilities do not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of intellectual disability, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage. In determining whether a pupil has a specific learning disability, the public agency may consider whether a pupil has a severe discrepancy between intellectual ability and achievement in oral expression, listening comprehension, written expression, basic reading skill, reading comprehension, mathematical calculation, or mathematical reasoning. The decision as to whether a severe discrepancy exists shall take into account all relevant material which is available on the pupil. No single score or product of scores, test or procedure shall be used as the sole criterion for the decisions of the IEP team as to the pupil's eligibility for special education.
In determining the existence of a severe discrepancy, the IEP team shall use the following procedures: 1. When standardized tests are considered to be valid for a specific pupil, a severe discrepancy is demonstrated by: first, converting into common standard scores, using a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15, the achievement test score and the intellectual ability test score to be compared; second, computing the difference between these common standard scores; and third, comparing this computed difference to the standard criterion which is the product of 1.5 multiplied by the standard deviation of the distribution of computed differences of students taking these achievement and ability tests. A computed difference which equals or exceeds this standard criterion, adjusted by one standard error of measurement, the adjustment not to exceed 4 common standard score points, indicates a severe discrepancy when such discrepancy is corroborated by other assessment data which may include other tests, scales, instruments, observations and work samples, as appropriate. 2. When standardized tests are considered to be invalid for a specific pupil, the discrepancy shall be measured by alternative means as specified on the assessment plan.
3. If the standardized tests do not reveal a severe discrepancy as defined in subdivisions 1. or 2. above, the IEP team may find that a severe discrepancy does exist, provided that the team documents in a written report that the severe discrepancy between ability and achievement exists as a result of a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes. The report shall include a statement of the area, the degree, and the basis and method used in determining the discrepancy. The report shall contain information considered by the team which shall include, but not be limited to: (i) Data obtained from standardized assessment instruments; (ii) Information provided by the parent; (iii) Information provided by the pupil's present teacher; (iv) Evidence of the pupil's performance in the regular and/or special education classroom obtained from observations, work samples, and group test scores; (v) Consideration of the pupil's age, particularly for young children; and (vi) Any additional relevant information.
4. A severe discrepancy shall not be primarily the result of limited school experience or poor school attendance.
(C) Whether or not a pupil exhibits a severe discrepancy as described in subdivision (b)(10)(B) above, a pupil may be determined to have a specific learning disability if:
1. The pupil does not achieve adequately for the pupil's age or to meet State-approved grade-level standards in one or more of the following areas, when provided with learning experiences and instruction appropriate for the pupil's age or State-approved grade-level standards: (i) Oral expression. (ii) Listening comprehension. (iii) Written expression. (iv) Basic reading skill. (v) Reading fluency skills. (vi) Reading comprehension. (vii) Mathematics calculation. (viii) Mathematics problem solving, and 2.(i) The pupil does not make sufficient progress to meet age or State-approved grade level standards in one or more of the areas identified in subdivision (b)(10)(C)(1) of this section when using a process based on the pupil's response to scientific, research based intervention; or
(ii) The pupil exhibits a pattern of strengths and weaknesses in performance, achievement, or both, relative to age, State-approved grade-level standards, or intellectual development, that is determined by the group to be relevant to the identification of a specific learning disability, using appropriate assessments, consistent with 34 C.F.R. sections 300.304 and 300.305; and 3. The findings under subdivisions (b)(10)(C)(1) and (2) of this section are not primarily the result of: (i) A visual, hearing, or motor disability; (ii) Intellectual disability; (iii) Emotional disturbance; (iv) Cultural factors; (v) Environmental or economic disadvantage; or (vi) Limited English proficiency.
4. To ensure that underachievement in a pupil suspected of having a specific learning disability is not due to lack of appropriate instruction in reading or math, the group making the decision must consider: (i) Data that demonstrate that prior to, or as a part of, the referral process, the pupil was provided appropriate instruction in regular education settings, delivered by qualified personnel; and (ii) Data-based documentation of repeated assessments of achievement at reasonable intervals, reflecting formal assessment of student progress during instruction, which was provided to the pupil's parents. 5. In determining whether a pupil has a specific learning disability, the public agency must ensure that the pupil is observed in the pupil's learning environment in accordance with 34 C.F.R. section 300.310. In the case of a child of less than school age or out of school, a qualified professional must observe the child in an environment appropriate for a child of that age. The eligibility determination must be documented in accordance with 34 C.F.R. section 300.311.

The Contra Costa SELPA recommends the use of the severe discrepancy model when determining eligibility for a specific learning disability.

English Learners in Special Education

Updated July 2020

Pre-Referral Process
It is important to remember that program accommodations and adaptations should precede special education referral. Although it is important to find and service individuals with exceptional needs, it is also important to be sure that special education referral is necessary. Only individuals whose needs cannot be met by the general education school program with appropriate adaptations and EL support are eligible for special education services. Prior to a referral for special education by a staff member and/or parent, the site principal, counselor, or designee should utilize a Student Study Team (SST) or other collaborative process to document attempts of EL general education program accommodations and/or modifications and assure that the individual's needs cannot be met in the EL general education program.
The absence of documented attempts to modify the student's general education class program precludes any placement in special education. Because each student is guaranteed the right of an education in the least restrictive environment, evidence shall be presented which shows that attempts have been made to continue the student in a general education classroom. Special education shall not act upon a referral without documented program modifications. (Section 56303, Education Code)

The provision of research-based, early intervention services that are intensive in nature provided to English learners (ELs) with disabilities can minimize their being at risk for later school failure.
Early intervention means that "supplementary instructional services are provided early in students' schooling, and that they are intense enough to bring at-risk students quickly to a level at which they can profit from high-quality classroom instruction" (Madden, Slavin, Karweit, Dolan, & Wasik, 1991). These services are above and beyond the "core" ELD services an English learner (EL) receives.

It is recommended that the following steps be taken when it is a determined that an EL student is struggling academically:

  1. Analyze the School Environment: Determine if there is appropriate curriculum and instruction for ELs being implemented.
  2. Provide Pre-referral Intervention, Multi-Tiered Systems of Support (MTSS) or Response to Intervention (RtI): Determine if pre-referral interventions in areas of weakness have been implemented and documented over time, to include progress monitoring outcomes.
  3. Referral to Special Education: Assess in native language & English and other best practices for bilingual assessment to rule out language difference versus disability. It is important to ensure that you are assessing whether or not the student requires special education rather than assessing the student's English proficiency.

Student Study Team (SST)
When concerns arise for an English Learner (EL), an SST meeting is the appropriate place to begin. The SST is designed to offer immediate assistance and suggestions for teachers, parents, and support staff for a student who is not making progress in the classroom and/or school.
When convening the meeting, determine whether an interpreter is needed and be sure to consult with EL staff as part of the SST process. The SST consists of a group of professionals and parents who will discuss pupil strengths and problems and possible interventions. The team needs to determine what steps should be taken to help the student be successful in school. Members of the team may include general education teacher/s, bilingual personnel, a school site administrator, the student's parent, special education staff, school psychologist, school nurse, speech/language pathologist, interprets (as needed), and the student (if appropriate).

An action plan will be developed listing concerns, prior interventions, accommodations and/or modifications that have been considered, or will be implemented, along with the individuals responsible for implementation with a follow-up date to review student progress. The team should determine if the perceived weakness is due to external factors, for example, inappropriate instruction, normal process of second language acquisition, lack of formal education, etc., or a possible internal factor such as a learning disability, language disorder, etc. When describing the specific difficulty the English learner is experiencing, the difficulty needs to be measurable and observable.

In addition, data should be collected regarding the identified difficulty across different contexts such as multiple subject areas, varied environments such as home and school, and in both the primary language and English. After identifying specific challenges the student is experiencing, the next step is to determine why the student is having this difficulty. If an English learner is experiencing difficulties only in English, but not in the primary language, then the problem could be due to external factors rather than a disability.

In addition to the pre-referral considerations and SST process identified in the Procedures Guide for all students, for the EL student the following additional issues need to be included in the discussion:

  • Identifying the student's needs within the SST systematic process of reviewing the history of the EL student (educational history including type of schooling received and academic progress in country of origin, number of years student has been in this country, number of years student has been in U.S. schools, immigration patterns, cultural differences) that impact learning.
  • Review of California English Language Development Test (CELDT).
    • CELDT will continue to be required for transitional kindergarten through grade 12 (TK-12) newly enrolled students whose primary language is not English within 30 days after enrollment in a California public school for the first time.
    • The CELDT must also be given once each year to ELs until they are reclassified.
    • Most students with disabilities will be able to participate in the CELDT. For those students whose disabilities make it impossible for them to participate in one or more domains of the CELDT, their IEP teams may recommend accommodations, modifications, or an alternate assessment (See EC 56345). The CDE does not make specific recommendations about which alternate assessment instruments to use. The appropriate alternate assessment must be identified annually in a student's IEP, and the IEP team should include a representative with second language expertise whenever possible." Recent Q & A guidance from OSEP and OCR in July 2014, indicates that alternate assessments to CELDT should be objective, assess in all domains to include listening, speaking, and writing, as well as provide an indication of whether or not the student is fluent in English.
  • Information acquired through formal and informal general education classroom assessment
  • Information from parents regarding student's previous education and student's progress both in school and at home.
  • Current language proficiency in his/her primary language and in English.
  • Is the student presently in an EL program? If not, has the student ever been in a bilingual or EL program?
  • Current classroom instruction including participation in EL instruction and any accommodations and modifications that have been implemented.
  • Identify applicable community agencies and services that might be useful resources
  • Identify school based general education interventions and/or programs, including EL supports, that might be useful resources.
  • Developing or updating program accommodations and review EL instruction as it relates to English Language Development (ELD) and specially designed academic instruction (SDAIE).
  • Areas where the student is successful and areas that need support and/or improvement.
  • Creating and recording an action plan for student progress.

If additional accommodations are required the SST will reconvene to discuss the student's progress and determine if a special education assessment is warranted. At that time any data collected as a result of the action plan from previous meetings should be reviewed. The team should determine if the student is making educational progress, if current interventions should continue, and if new interventions should be added.

Special Education Referral
Unless the student has a severe disability, including but not limited to severe vision and hearing impairments, severe physical impairment, severe mental retardation, autism, or severe health impairment, the student should be allowed sufficient time to acquire English proficiency and receive appropriate academic instruction in English language arts and math. It is critical to differentiate between a student who is not achieving in the classroom because English is not his/her primary language and a student who is not achieving due to a disability.

Make sure parents of EL students understand the purpose of special education in the United States and that correspondence is provided in the family's primary language if necessary, including on the proposed assessment plan. When identifying an EL student for special education, it is crucial that the normal developmental process for language acquisition is not mistaken for a learning disability. If a learning disability exists, it will be present in the student's primary language as well as second language.

EL students are covered by the same mandates regarding special education as any other student. The only difference is that accommodations need to be made to address the student's dominant language. In addition, California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) System program and CELDT eligible students shall be permitted to take the test with accommodations or modifications if specified in the eligible student's IEP. For more detail on allowable accommodations and modifications please refer to the California Department of Education's website: Testing Variations, Accommodations and Modifications Matrix, California Code of Regulations, Title 5, Education, for each specific assessment program.

Psychological, educational and speech/language assessments need to be administered in the student's dominant language. Dominant language testing should be administered by qualified individuals who are knowledgeable about the language as well as the culture. If such a person is unavailable, trained interpreters may be used, under the supervision of the credentialed assessor. If it is not feasible to administer the assessment in the primary language and an interpreter is used this must be documented in the assessment report. If an interpreter is to be used, the reason should be noted on the assessment plan and explained to parents.

Districts are obligated to provide information to parents of EL students just as they would for English only students. This may require parent notifications, parent rights and the IEP to be translated into the parent's primary language. If the assessment reports are lengthy, a translated summary might be considered. Interpreters should be provided for the IEP meetings. Districts need to ensure that reasonable steps have been taken to provide parents of EL students with equal access to information in a comprehensible manner. (Written translations may not always be possible for every language, but a process must be in place to provide the necessary information to parents.)

If the student qualifies for special education services, service delivery options need to be discussed for the least restrictive environment. The IEP must include linguistically appropriate goals and objectives. The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) requires that teachers of English learners (ELs), to include special education teachers, attain English learner authorization. The type of certificate, permit, or credential required depends on the type of service and/or instruction being provided to ELs. Per EC 44258.9 credentialing requirements are listed in the chart from the CTC Administrator's Assignment Manual (2017).

If an EL program is available, these classes may be taken in conjunction with the special education program. Collaboration between special education, EL programs and general education is encouraged. The student's IEP must include a description of how the program will use various activities and strategies to meet his/her language needs. The goal is to develop English language proficiency so that the EL student can function independently in the mainstream classroom setting. To this end, all English learners are provided with English language development instruction targeted to their English proficiency level and a standards-based curriculum is used for all English language learners.

34 CFR 300.304
34 CFR 300.306
CFR 300.534
30 EC 44253
5 CCR 11512
EC 56303


Updated 8/12/15

Extended School Year services must be provided for each student with exceptional needs who requires special education and related services in excess of the general academic year. These services can be provided only if a child's IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) to the child.

The IEP Team has the responsibility of determining what services will be appropriate for each student individually, as Federal law prohibits an LEA from unilaterally limiting participation by categories of disability. The law also prohibits the LEA from unilaterally limiting the type, amount or duration of services that will be available during Extended School Year.

The California Code of Regulations (CCR §3043) states:
Extended school year services shall be provided for each individual with exceptional needs who has unique needs and requires special education and related services in excess of the regular academic year. Such individuals shall have handicaps which are likely to continue indefinitely or for a prolonged period, and interruption of the pupil's educational programming may cause regression, when coupled with limited recoupment capacity, rendering it impossible or unlikely that the pupil will attain the level of self-sufficiency and independence that would otherwise be expected in view of his or her handicapping condition. The lack of clear evidence of such factors may not be used to deny an individual an extended school year program if the individualized education program team determines the need for such a program and includes extended school year in the individualized education program.

Determining eligibility for Extended School Year, like all other services is the responsibility of the IEP team. This team must include a special education teacher, a general education teacher, the parent and an administrative designee. The IEP team may also include other service providers and/or the student.

In deciding whether a student requires Extended School Year services in order to receive FAPE, the IEP Team needs to consider whether the student is likely to regress in skill levels while school is not in session. In a 4th Circuit decision (MM v. School District of Greenville County, 2002) the Federal court found that "Extended School Year services are only necessary to FAPE when the benefits accrued a disabled child during a regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if he is not provided with an educational program during the summer months." In addition to regression, the IEP team should also consider other factors such as the amount of time needed for recoupment in the fall, the child's rate of progress, the child's behavioral or physical problems, the availability of alternative resources, the areas of the child's curriculum which need continuous attention and the child's vocational needs (Lawyer vs. Chesterfield, 1993)

The probability of skill regression is a difficult thing for an IEP team to forecast without data, but the team should begin with the proposition that providing an extended school year is the exception, not the rule. The team may need to review data and request information from teachers or specialists who have had the opportunity to observe the student over a period of several years in order to make a determination on whether the student is likely to regress over an extended school break. If the team determines that the student is likely to regress, and is also unlikely to regain those lost skills in a reasonable amount of time, then the student should receive Extended School Year services. We tend to think of Extended School Year services as an exact duplication of the services the student received during the regular school year. In some cases, however, the IEP team may determine that different services, amounts or frequencies of service are required. Services provided should concentrate on those skills that are likely to be lost during an extended school break. When different services are to be provided, these changes need to be documented in the IEP. The services for extended school year must be clearly designated in the IEP on the services page. . It may be that the student's IEP goals can be addressed by a general education summer school program, by Related Services only, in a shortened day, or in an entirely different setting. While it is permissible for the IEP team to be creative in determining what constitutes FAPE for each student during school breaks, they must use caution to provide a program delivered by highly qualified teachers that meets minimum time standards for claiming Average Daily Attendance (ADA) funding. ADA establishes 20 as the minimum number of days for ESY with 55 being the upper limit for students in special classes or centers and 30 days as the upper limit for other students.

Remember: If changes to the IEP Team offer of Extended School Year are not documented in the IEP and agreed to by the parents, the parents can presume that the Extended School Year program will be EXACTLY the same as the program offered during the regular school year.

The length of the school day during Extended School Year is not required to be the same length as the school day provided during the regular school year; however, the length of the school day does need to be the same as the school day for pupils of the same age level attending summer school in the district in which the Extended School Year program is provided. Again, if the length of this day is different than the regular school year day, this difference needs to be described in the IEP.

Districts are not required to provide in Extended Year an inclusive schooling experience for a disabled student who is educated in a general education classroom during the regular school year, if the district does not provide a summer school experience for general education students. (Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, 35 IDELER 172 [SEA AL 2001]). If general education peers are not available during school breaks, the disabled student's IEP needs to reflect this change. This should be done on the IEP Notes page.

Although no single criteria can be used to determine eligibility for Extended School Year, the purpose is to maintain skills, not enhance them. Although team members may determine that the student would benefit from the extra "boost," or through "Pre-teaching" for the next grade, this is not a requirement of law.


Extended School Year (ESY) is:

  • Determined on multiple criteria, not an eligibility category
  • A service determined by an IEP team based on a specific student's likelihood to regress during an extended school break or the likelihood of extended time for recoupment after an extended school break.
  • Designed to maintain a reasonable readiness to begin the next year

Extended School Year (ESY) Is Not:

  • For students who exhibit regression related to transitional life or medial situations.
  • Compulsory. Parents may refuse ESY services offered on an IEP>
  • Subject to the same programming options as regular school year if options such as those for mainstreaming are not available or the IEP team determines an alternate program could meet the needs of the student.
  • Required as a respite of recreation program for students with disabilities during summer.
  • A primary means of credit recovery for classes failed or for making up for poor attendance during the regular academic year.
  • Required solely when a child fails to achieve IEP goals during the regular school year
  • Required to provide a "boost" on next year for students with disabilities.

If the IEP team determines the student is ineligible for Extended School Year, the student may still be referred for participation in other intervention programs offered during summer months including credit recovery.

34 Code of Federal Regulation section 300.106
(a) General. (1) Each public agency must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide FAPE, consistent with paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(2) Extended school year services must be provided only if a child's IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, in accordance with sections 300.320 through 300.324, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.
(3) In implementing the requirements of this section, a public agency many not --
(i) Limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability; or
(ii) Unilaterally limit the type, amount or duration of those services
(b) Definition. As used in this section, the term extended school year services means special education and related services that -
(1) Are provided to a child with a disability -5 C.C.R 3043
Extended school year services shall be provided for each individual with exceptional needs who has unique needs and requires special education and related services in excess of the regular academic year. Such individuals shall have handicaps which are likely to continue indefinitely or for a prolonged period, and interruption of the pupil's educational programming may cause regression., when coupled with limited recoupment capacity, rendering it impossible or unlikely that the pupil will attain the level of self-sufficiency and independence that would otherwise be expected in view of his or her handicapping condition. The lack of clear evidence of such factors may not be used to deny an individual an extended
school year program if the individualized education program team determines the need for such a program and includes extended school year in the individualized education program pursuant to subsection (f)

(a) Extended year special education and related services shall be provided by a school district, special education local plan area, or county office offering programs during the regular academic year.

(b) Individuals with exceptional needs who may require an extended school year are those who:

(1) Are placed in special classes or centers; or

(2) Are individuals with exceptional needs whose individualized education programs specify an extended year program as determined by the Individualized Education Program Team.

(c) The term "extended year" as used in this section means the period of time between the close of one academic year and the beginning of the succeeding academic year. The term "academic year" as used in this section means that portion of the school year during which the regular day school is maintained, which period must include not less than the number of days required to entitle the district, special education services region, or county office to apportionments of state funds.

(d) An extended year program shall be provided for a minimum of 20 instructional days, including holidays. For reimbursement purposes:

(1) A maximum of 55 instructional days excluding holidays shall be allowed for individuals in special classes or centers for the severely handicapped; and
(2) A maximum of 30 instructional days excluding holidays shall be allowed for all other eligible pupils needing extended year.

(e) A local governing board may increase the number of instructional days during the extended year period, but shall not claim revenue for average daily attendance generated beyond the maximum instructional days allowed in subsection (d)(1) and (2).

(f) An extended year program, when needed, as determined by the Individualized Education Program team, shall be included in the pupil's individualized education program.

(g) In order to qualify for average daily attendance revenue for extended year pupils, all of the following conditions must be met:

(1) Extended year special education shall be the same length of time as the school day for pupils of the same age level attending summer school in the district in which the extended year program is provided, but not less than the minimum school day for that age unless otherwise specified in the individualized education program to meet a pupil's unique needs.
(2) The special education and related services offered during the extended year period are comparable in standards, scope and quality to the special education program offered during the regular academic year.

(h) If during the regular academic year an individual's individualized education program specifies integration in the regular classroom, a public education agency is not required to meet that component of the individualized education program if no regular summer school programs are being offered by that agency.

(i) This section shall not apply to schools which are operating a continuous school program pursuant to Chapter 5 (commencing with Section 37600) of Part 22, Division 3, Title 2, of the Education Code.

Individualized Educational Plan Development

Updated 2/9/18

This section of the Procedures Guide presents an overview of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process. It can be used as a refresher for current special education staff, an introduction for general education staff, or a handbook for parents. For greater detail on some topics, other sections of the Procedures Guide will be referenced.

It's all about F.A.P.E.
Federal legislation, beginning in 1975, has provided a statutory entitlement to a "free, appropriate public education" (FAPE) for all children with eligible disabling conditions.
A definition of FAPE has evolved through legislation and litigation to mean a coordinated set of services

  • individualized to address the student's unique needs.
  • designed to provide educational benefit.
  • provided in the least restrictive environment.
  • developed with consideration of the parent/guardians' concerns.

Assessing the student's unique needs
Before any offer of placement and services can be made, the IEP team must have a valid measure of the student's skills. This is achieved through a comprehensive assessment in all areas of suspected disability. The assessment team will look at information from a variety of sources and plan an assessment that will yield the information required to answer basic questions about the student's levels of performance. The assessment team will present an "Assessment Plan" for parent authorization. This plan will list the areas to be evaluated, and the types of assessments to be used. If the parent agrees to the assessment, the assessment team has 60 calendar days to complete the assessment and hold an IEP meeting. At the IEP meeting, the assessment information will be presented, and a written copy given to the parent. The assessment report will document areas of instructional need. If this is an initial assessment, the report will also document whether the student meets the definition of an individual with a disability.

Developing a program that provides educational benefit
Using the assessment data provided, the IEP team develops goals and, in some cases, incremental objectives in the areas of instructional need. Each area of identified need should have a goal that is designed to address that need. Goals must be derived from core curriculum standards at the student's grade level or functional skill level. They should be designed to be attainable in one year. Service providers are encouraged to bring drafts of recommended goals for discussion at the meeting to save time. There should not be any draft goals that are not supported by assessment data. The draft goals must be measurable, and the service provider should be prepared to discuss in detail how progress on the goals will be documented. Any concerns that the parents have with the proposed goals should be addressed.

Program to be provided in the least restrictive environment
Once the team has achieved consensus on the goals, they will begin determining where those goals can be implemented. Our first choice is always to provide services to address the goals within the general education program with appropriate supplementary supports and services, if necessary. Assignment to special education classes or schools occurs only when it is determined that the student cannot benefit from the general education program. The IEP team's job is to determine which combination of services provides the required benefits with the least restriction in environment. Federal law requires that the placement be as close as possible to the child's home, and that the child is educated in the school he or she would attend if not disabled, unless the team determines that the child requires other arrangements. The least restrictive environment needs to be considered in the continuum of placement options at each IEP meeting.

Consideration of parent concerns
At each step in the IEP process, parent concerns need to be addressed. The chairperson of the IEP team needs to check for understanding and concurrence from the family, rather than wait for the end of the meeting and simply ask for the parent's signature. The better the parents understand the IEP, the more supportive they can be of the instructional process.

Required Components of the IEP Document

    • A statement of the child's present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, including
      • How the child's disability affects the child's involvement and progress in the general education curriculum, or,
      • For preschool children, as appropriate, how the disability affects the child's participation in appropriate activities.
    • A statement of measurable annual goals, including academic and functional goals designed to
      • Meet the child's needs that result from the child's disability to enable the child to be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum; and
      • Meet the child's other educational needs that result from the child's disability.
      • For children with disabilities who take alternate assessments aligned to alternate achievement standards, a description of benchmarks or short-term objectives are required.
    • A description of
      • How the child's progress toward meeting the annual goals will be measured; and
      • When periodic reports on the progress the child is making toward meeting the annual goals will be provided.
    • A statement of the special education and related services and supplementary aids and services, based on peer-reviewed research to the extent practicable, to be provided to the child, or on behalf of the child. Also required is a statement of the program modifications or supports for school personnel that will be provided to enable the child
      • To advance appropriately toward attaining the annual goals.
      • To be involved in and make progress in the general education curriculum, and to participate in extracurricular and other nonacademic activities; and
      • To be educated and participate with other children with disabilities and nondisabled children.
    • An explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class and in the activities described in this section.
    • A statement of any individual appropriate accommodations that are necessary to measure the academic achievement and functional performance of the child on State and districtwide assessments, and
      • If the IEP Team determines that the child must take an alternate assessment instead of a particular State or districtwide assessment , a statement of why
        • The child cannot participate in the regular assessment; and
        • The particular alternate assessment selected is appropriate for the child.
    • The projected date for the beginning of the services and modifications and the anticipated frequency, location and duration of those services and modifications.
      • Transition services: Beginning not later than the first IEP to be in effect when the child turns 16, or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP Team, and updated annually, thereafter, the IEP must include:
      • Appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and, where appropriate, independent living skills; and
      • The transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals.
      • Transfer of rights at age of majority. Beginning not later than one year before the child reaches the age of majority under State law (18 years in California), the IEP must include a statement that the child has been informed of the child's rights that will transfer to the child on reaching the age of majority.

The IEP Team Members
The LEA must ensure that the IEP Team for each child with a disability includes:

  1. The parents of the child;
  2. Not less than one regular education teacher of the child (if the child is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment);
  3. Not less than one special education teacher of the child, or where appropriate, not less than one special education provider of the child;
  4. A representative of the public agency who is qualified to provide, or supervise the provision of specially designed instruction to meet the unique needs of children with disabilities, is knowledgeable about the general education curriculum, and is knowledgeable about the resources of the LEA. The LEA may designate another member of the IEP team (Special Education teacher or Specialist) to fill this role, if the above qualifications are met;
  5. An individual who can interpret the instructional implications of evaluation results;
  6. Other individuals who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the child;
  7. Whenever appropriate, the child with a disability.
  8. For transition age students, a representative of a public agency that provides services for adults may be invited if the district has obtained parent or student permission to do so.

With prior written permission from the parent, a member of the IEP team may be excused from the IEP meeting if their area of expertise is not going to be on the agenda and they have submitted, in writing, to the parent and the other members of the IEP, input into the development of the child's IEP.

The General Education Teacher's Role at the IEP
The child's general education teacher provides valuable information to the IEP team in designing a program that will address the child's unique needs. At the meeting the general education teacher could be expected to:

  • Provide information about the general education curriculum
  • Identify the student's need for supplemental aids and support
  • Describe necessary program modifications
  • Request training and support to improve skills in working with this student
  • Consider the need for positive behavior supports
  • Describe the expectations for class and homework
  • Describe the grading system as it applies to the student
  • Describe accommodations and modifications required for any standardized testing required by the California Department of Education Describe how progress is monitored in the general education classroom

The IEP Meeting Agenda
Using the following IEP Agenda will assure that no key components are overlooked.
1. Welcome and Introductions- Introduce all IEP Team members and describe their role in relation to the student
2. Procedural Safeguards- Ask the parent/guardian if they would like to receive a copy of their procedural safeguards. Explain any of the procedures they wish to have clarified
3. Purpose of the Meeting- Describe the purpose of the meeting: Initial, Annual, 3-Year Review, Transition
4. Parent Concerns/Questions Ask the parent/guardian for their agenda items
5. Review Transition Plan (if applicable)
6. Present Levels of Performance

  • Review progress on prior goals (not in initial IEP meeting) assessment data from staff
  • Review and discuss any independent assessments provided by parents
  • Determine whether the student is/continues to be a child with a disability
  • Establish present levels of performance

7.Determine how student's disability affects progress in general education curriculum
8. Goals: Develop measurable annual goals based upon content standards and present levels of performance from assessment data
9. Special Factors: The IEP team must consider five special factors in the development, review, and revision of each child's IEP

  • Behavior
  • Limited English proficiency
  • Blindness or visual impairment
  • Communication needs/Deafness
  • Assistive technology

10. Services

  • Determine what related services are required to address the measurable goals.
  • Determine the setting and location for services designed to address the student's unique needs.
  • Determine whether the student requires specialized transportation.
  • Discuss whether the student requires extended school year. If the student does require ESY, describe on the comments page of the IEP any differences between the regular school year program and the extended school year program.

11. Accommodations/Modifications

  • Determine what classroom adaptations are required for the student to access the curriculum
  • Discuss supports/consultation that staff require
  • Discuss whether, and how, the student's grading will be modified

12. Statewide Assessments- Determine which of the classroom adaptations will also be required for the student's participation in the California Department of Education State Testing and Reporting system, and which tests the student will participate in.

13. Educational Setting

  • Determine the percent of time the student will spend in non integrated settings, and the rationale for removal from the general education setting
  • Describe how the student will meet the state requirement for physical education
  • Discuss whether district Promotion/Retention Standards apply to this student
  • Describe how the student's progress on the IEP goals will be reported to parents

14. Request parent signature and confirmation that they consent to the IEP
15. Distribute copies of the IEP and assessment reports to parents and service providers

EC 56205(a)
34 CFR §§300.163-300.167 to 174-300.201-300.321-300.322-300.323
20 USC §1414(d)(1)(B)(i)

Interim Placements

September 2020

When a student with an IEP transfers into the Contra Costa SELPA from a California Local Education Agency (LEA) not operating programs under the same local plan and that student as enrolled in a special education program in the same academic year, the receiving district administrator (in consultation with the parent) may place the student in a comparable program for a period not to exceed thirty (30) days. By the end of the 30-day period the district will adopt the IEP or develop a new one. The process allows the district to identify similar services that are available in the receiving district, allow the parent to be informed, and allow implementation for a limited period of time until the IEP process is completed.(Article 2, section 56325 (a) (2)) (Title 20, (d)(2)(C)(i) ) (Article 2, section 56325 (a) (1)) (Title 20, (d)(2)(C)(i) )

For students transferring into the Contra Costa SELPA from a district operating programs under the same local plan, it is the responsibility of the district of residence to enroll students and begin attendance with implementation of the IEP as soon as possible unless the parent and the LEA agree to develop, adopt, and implement a new IEP. The Interim placement process is provided to expedite continuation of the student's education.

For students arriving in Contra Costa SELPA LEAs with valid IEPs from other states, the LEA will provide comparable services in consultation with the parent, until the LEA conducts an assessment and develops a new IEP if appropriate. (Article 2, section 56325 (a) (3)) (Title 20, (d)(2)(C)(i)(II) )

For students transitioning from an elementary school district to a high school district
When a student is to enroll in a high school district from an elementary district, the elementary district shall invite a representative from the high school district to the IEP team meeting prior to enrollment in the high school district.

If the authorized high school personnel participate with the elementary district personnel in the IEP team meeting, the IEP shall specify the appropriate services to be provided by the high school district.

If the authorized representative of the high school district has not participated in the IEP development prior to transfer from the elementary program, the elementary school district shall notify the high school district of individuals with exceptional needs who require special education and related services.

For each student listed who enrolls in the high school district, the administrator shall make an Interim placement or convene an IEP team meeting immediately upon request for enrollment.
(5 CCR 3024(b), Article 2, section 56325)

Age 14.9 Transfer
When the district of residence is an elementary school district, the fiscal and case management responsibilities for an identified student will transfer to the high school district of residence when the student reaches 14.9 years of age on or before September 1, of each new school year unless previously graduated from eighth grade or previously transferred by an IEP team decision. However, extended school year services will be the fiscal and case responsibility of the elementary school district for the transition year.

If the elementary school district IEP team designates a student as an eighth grader at age 14.9 or later the elementary school district maintains fiscal responsibility.

Low Incidence Service & Equipment Funds

Updated 4/3/18

Background Information
Through a special State fund, the SELPA is provided limited funds each year for specialized equipment, and repair of that equipment for eligible low incidence pupils. The funds are provided based on the low incidence pupil count on December 1 each year. Students whose primary or secondary disabling condition is visually impaired, deaf/blind, hearing impaired or orthopedic impairment are eligible for low incidence equipment and services and generate low incidence funding. Students who are multi-handicapped (more than one disability with at least one of the specific low incidence disabilities) are also eligible, but do not generate low incidence dollars unless that student has been reported on the CASEMIS pupil count in either Disability 1 or Disability 2 as either hearing impaired, visually impaired or severely orthopedically impaired.

Written requests for reimbursement of low incidence expenditures may be submitted to the SELPA office. Medical or life-long adaptive devices such as glasses or hearing aids are not eligible for funding reimbursement as they are not "required to benefit" for educational purposes but rather life-long adaptive devices. Equipment and/or materials that are eligible for funding from another agency or insurance coverage are not eligible for Low Incidence reimbursement.

Requests less or equal to $2,500 will be reviewed by the SELPA Director. Requests greater than $2,500 will be reviewed by the Low Incidence Committee. If there is a concern for funding, all requests will be reviewed by the Low Incidence Committee. The minimum single request must be for $50.00. Low cost eligible equipment and/or materials for the same student may be logically combined to reach the $50 minimum reimbursement request, subject to review by the SELPA Director.

Requests must be made by April 1 for the current school year. Requests made after that date will be processed on the following year's budget, beginning July 1. The deadline for sending invoices and warrants for reimbursement is June 1st.

The Individualized Education Program (IEP) team authorizes the provision of specific specialized equipment for school use as it relates to the unique educational needs resulting from the low incidence disability, as they would any other service on the IEP. The Local Education Agency (LEA) is responsible for providing for the equipment, as they would any other service on the IEP, whether or not reimbursement is provided. The low incidence fund provides for LEA reimbursement where eligible, according to state guidelines, SELPA Policy and the availability of funds.

The policy provides that the "Low Incidence Funds: Request for Reimbursement" form be completed as the cover page, copied in pink, and sent to the SELPA office with the full IEP (i.e., Program Description Summary, Present levels with baseline data, and Goals and Objectives reflecting the use of the equipment) and a Justification Form to document the need for the equipment. The Justification Form is not to document the child's disability but rather the considerations of the team and an evaluation of the ability of the child to use the equipment. Complete packets of information should be submitted to the SELPA office with the signature of the LEA administrator. Partial packets should not be submitted and will be returned. Documents should not be faxed unless requested by the SELPA office. The IEP should be less than three months old or an explanation should be provided such as: "a borrowed piece of equipment has been tried for the past six months before purchase was requested."

In addition, the Low Incidence Committee is looking for the following information:
1. Assurance that the existing equipment in the classroom will not meet the needs of the child.
2. Description of the unique nature of this equipment in terms of meeting the individual needs of this child.
3. Assurance that the equipment is competitively priced.
4. Assurance that the equipment will meet the long term needs of the child.

Certificated special education professionals should complete the Justification Form. Equipment vendors cannot complete Justification Form.

The SELPA Director authorizes reimbursement for equipment with a letter and purchase order. Payment is made when the actual receipts are provided to the SELPA office.

The equipment becomes part of a statewide inventory and must be tagged with a state label that includes an inventory tracking number. The person who completes the Justification Form should follow-up with placing the tags on the equipment and provide training to staff on how to use the equipment. When the first pupil no longer needs the equipment, the equipment must be made available to other pupils within the SELPA and the state. Items must be tracked by the SELPA inventory process and available for audit by the state. The LEA requesting the equipment must store the item. The LEA is responsible for notification to other LEA members of the SELPA and the SELPA Office when equipment becomes available for use by another student. The responsible LEA may not discard items without specific authorization from the SELPA office after a written request. The SELPA must be kept informed of the location of the equipment at all times. Transfer of equipment to a new student requires submission to the SELPA for authorization using the same process as an original purchase. The transfer from one pupil to another should not be made until the authorization is processed and received from the SELPA office.

The policy provides that the LEA that will order the equipment and house it. The easiest guideline is that the LEA where the child is placed be the one to order equipment. If the child were placed in a county program, the county would order the equipment and be reimbursed for the cost after processing. If the child were placed in a district program, the district would order the equipment and be reimbursed for the cost after processing. County itinerant staff may assist district or county programs by making recommendations and participating in the assessment. Responsibility for complying with the policies and regulations belongs to the ordering LEA.

One other caution about the equipment: It is for school use to allow the student to access his or her educational program. Equipment may not be removed from a public school site unless specifically addressed on the IEP and the LEA administrator provides written authorization. The purchasing LEA is accountable for the equipment including replacement if lost or stolen. Damage which occurs while the equipment is away from the school is also the responsibility of the LEA. Repair or modification of the equipment may be reimbursed through the same process of submitting a low incidence request.

Requests for low incidence equipment shall not supplant the need for general classroom materials, supplies, and equipment provided as a standard to other similar classrooms.
Procedures For Low Incidence Equipment Reimbursement Requests
The Low Incidence Committee reviews requests based on SELPA policy and State regulation. The SELPA Director may take any questionable requests to the LI Committee for review.

An example of a request that may go to the LI Committee for review: A computer might be denied unless it is needed for specific adaptive devices. Devices such as a dedicated word processor should be considered instead. Dedicated word processors are considerably less expensive, smaller, portable and allow the student to do written language and math. The dedicated word processor would continue to allow the special education student to access the curriculum along with their classmates.

When completing the Low Incidence Equipment request please do the following:
1. Conduct an IEP meeting to write goals and objectives pertaining to the curriculum that documents the specific need (e.g., Student will write a paragraph without errors in punctuation using adaptive technology.) On the IEP Special Factors page, document assistive technology and low incidence services, equipment, and/or materials the student requires to meet educational needs. You may also note this under the Supplementary Aids and Services section where you document accommodations and modifications for the student.
2. Check with other SELPA-member-LEAs to determine if the recommended equipment is available for transfer prior to processing an LEA purchase order request.
3. Complete a Justification Form to show that the student needs this particular item in order to access the educational program and curriculum. The Justification Form can be completed by an employee of the district such as the occupational therapist, physical therapist, speech clinician, resource specialist or other person knowledgeable in the specific area. It is helpful to demonstrate that the student has had some successful experience with the item or a similar item.
4. Process an LEA purchase order request and have the LEA order the equipment/ materials. Do not wait for approval for reimbursement from the SELPA. The LEA is responsible to provide any materials and equipment for a student once it is written on the IEP whether or not the expense is reimbursed.
5. Complete the "Low Incidence Funds: Request for Reimbursement" form as the cover page, copy in pink, and include the full IEP and a Justification Form to document the need for the equipment.
6. Send the packet to the LEA special education administrator for signature prior to submission to the SELPA office.
7. Send copies of the invoice and warrant that paid this invoice to the SELPA office after the district has received the equipment and paid for it. These are required to generate a warrant to pay for the equipment. Please do not send copies of purchase requisitions, purchase orders, packing slips, etc. Only copies of the invoice and warrant are necessary.

Contact your Program Specialist or LEA special education administrator if you have any questions or need assistance.

Checklist for Submitting Requests for Reimbursement
1. "Request for Reimbursement" form must be completed as the cover page (copied in pink) with LEA administrator's signature.
2. Justification Form that documents the need for the equipment.
3. Complete IEP, less than 3 months old (including Present Levels of Performance, Special Factors, and Goals and Objectives reflecting the use of the equipment)

Low Incidence Service Funds
Funds will be limited to non-instructional classified support services and must relate to the unique educational need resulting from the student's low incidence disability. Priority is given to assistance necessary to maintain the student in a general education setting and services must be documented in the IEP. Supplementary Instructional Services (Low Incidence Services) may be provided to assist a student eligible for low incidence funding who has been placed in a least restrictive setting, usually a general education program or other significant mainstream experiences. Services may include translators, interpreters, readers, transcribers, vision/hearing services, note-takers, materials and equipment. Funds cannot be used for services that are funded by other sources. If funding is limited, priority shall be given to sign language translation services. Funds may not be used for any assessment services. The LEA Special Education Administrator must sign all requests.

Resource Links

Parents As Partners

Updated 9/11/17

Parents are an essential part of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) process and are encouraged to work in collaboration with the school. IDEA 2004 recognizes the importance for parent/school partnerships and non-adversarial dispute resolution. Parents provide consent to assessment and provision of special education services. They participate in meetings for the identification, evaluation, and placement of their child in a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Parents are included in eligibility and placement decisions. Parents provide information as to their child's progress and participate in development of goals and objectives.
Opportunities that are available for parents to participate in training, volunteer activities and the creation of partnerships include:

  • Community Advisory Committee (CAC)
  • Resource Parents
  • Resource Parent Trainer of Trainers
  • IEP Parent Training
  • SELPA Staff Development Trainers
  • SELPA Committees

Parent Notice of Team Meeting
Parents shall be notified in writing of IEP meetings early enough to ensure opportunity to participate.
Notification includes the purpose, time, location and person's name or professional role attending the meeting.
If transition services are to be discussed, it must be stated on the notification. The notice must indicate that the student, (if appropriate), and agency representatives (if appropriate) have been invited.
The notification must also inform you of your right to invite others who have knowledge or special expertise about your child.
Notification shall be addressed to the student as well as parents, as appropriate for students under age 18 and always at the age of 18 and older when the parent and student have been informed that the student's rights have been transferred at the age of majority.
The right to notification extends to parent designee, relative caretaker, non-custodial parents, surrogate parents, foster parents, and court appointed custodian.

The Role of the Parents at an IEP Team Meeting
As equal members of the IEP team, parents of a student being assessed shall be encouraged to participate in developing, reviewing and revising the student's Individualized Education Program.
Parents must give consent before any special education service may be provided.
Interpreters for parents whose primary language is not English will be provided when necessary.
An IEP meeting will be held without a parent present only after a diligent effort to persuade the parent(s) to attend has failed and at least three attempts have been made, including at least one written communication. All attempts should be documented in the student's file. A meeting may be held by teleconference upon mutual agreement of all parties.

Parents' Rights
Parents and students have very specific legal rights in the special education process. The California State Department of Education publishes a list of these rights and it is distributed regularly to the families of students with special needs. Districts are required to offer a copy of parent rights only one time per year except that a copy must also be provided upon initial referral or parent request for evaluation, upon receiving the first state or due process complaint per year, when disciplinary action is considered that constitutes a change of placement by a district, each time you receive an assessment plan and upon request of the parent.
It is important for special educators to be experts in understanding parent rights. The law gives them the responsibility for ensuring that a parent not only receives his/her rights but also is trained and understands them.
Parents shall be informed of their procedural safeguards at the time of their consent to the assessment plan and at every IEP meeting.

Important Components of Parent Rights
The right of parents to inspect and review their child's educational records.
The right of parents to obtain an Independent Educational Evaluation.
The right of parents to be given written prior notice on matters regarding the identification, evaluation or educational placement of their child, or the provision of FAPE for their child.
The right of the child to remain in his or her present educational placement, unless the parent and the public agency agree otherwise, while administrative or judicial proceedings are pending.
The right of parents to receive mediation to settle disagreements regarding their child's special education program through voluntary mediation, a process through which parties seek mutually agreeable solutions to disputes with the help of an impartial mediator.
The right of parents to give or refuse consent before their child is provided with special education and related services.
The right of parents to give or refuse consent before their child is evaluated or reevaluated.
The right of parents to be informed about specific discipline procedures for students with disabilities.
The rights of parents or public agencies to bring a civil or (due process) action in an appropriate State or Federal court to appeal a final hearing decision.
The right to obtain a copy of the Notice of Procedural Safeguards upon request or upon the initial referral for a special education assessment.
The rights of parents to request reasonable attorney's fees from a court for actions or proceedings brought under the IDEA.

Surrogate Parent Procedures
A surrogate parent is a person who represents a student with special education needs during the assessment process and throughout the development and implementation of the student's IEP. The surrogate parent's role is to represent the interests of the student in the special education process.
A surrogate parent is a volunteer from the community who has undergone training in the special education process Local Educational Agencies must terminate the appointment of the surrogacy if circumstances arise that create a conflict of interest during the appointment or the surrogate is not performing the duties required of the role.
The surrogate parent is required to meet with the student at least once in their role but may also meet on additional occasions to review, plan and discuss. An educational surrogate parent shall be appointed in any of the following cases:

  • No parent or foster parent can be identified (definition of parent as in Sec. 300.10).
    After reasonable efforts, the Local Educational Agency (LEA) cannot discover the whereabouts of a parent.
  • The child is an unaccompanied homeless youth as defined in section 725(6) of the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act
  • The student is a ward of the state or dependent of the court and the court has determined that the parent is unavailable or incapable of participating in the development of the educational program for the student. (34 CFR 300.514, Ed. Code, 56050 and Govt. Code 7579.5)
  • The natural or legal parent or guardian maintains educational signing rights unless those rights are specifically addressed, removed, and reassigned by a court of appropriate jurisdiction.

The responsibilities of the LEA include:

  • Determining whether a student needs an educational surrogate parent.
  • Making every effort to ensure an educational surrogate is appointed to a student within 30 days of determining the student requires one.
  • Recruitment, assignment, training and evaluation of the educational surrogate parent.
  • Terminating the appointment of the surrogacy if circumstances arise that create a conflict of interest during the appointment or the surrogate is not performing the duties required of the role and appointing a new surrogate.

The LEA shall consider the following guidelines when appointing a surrogate parent:

  • When possible, first preference shall be a relative caretaker, or court appointed special advocate.
  • The appointed person should have no interest that might restrict or bias his/her ability to advocate for services required to ensure a free and appropriate education.
  • The surrogate parent should not be an employee of a public or private agency that is involved in the education or care of the student. LCI operators, social workers and probation officers are not eligible for appointment as surrogate parents. Foster parents may be eligible to serve as surrogate parents unless there is a court order specifically prohibiting the appointment.
  • An educational surrogate parent may represent a student with disabilities needs in matters relating to identification, assessment, instructional planning and development, educational placement, reviewing and revising the individualized education program, and in other matters relating to the provision of a free appropriate education to the individual.
  • An educational surrogate may represent a student with disabilities in all phases of proposed suspension or expulsion.
  • The surrogate parent may represent the child until (1) the child is no longer in need of special education, (2) the minor reaches 18 years of age, unless the child chooses not to make educational decisions for himself or herself, or is deemed by a court to be incompetent, (3) another responsible adult is appointed to make educational decisions for the minor, or (4) the right of the parent or guardian to make educational decisions for the minor is fully restored.
  • The surrogate parent and the local educational agency appointing the surrogate parent shall be held harmless by the State of California when acting in their official capacity except for acts or omissions that are found to have been wanton, reckless, or malicious. -
  • If a culturally and ethnically matched educational surrogate parent cannot be found, the LEA will appoint an interim educational surrogate parent when decisions regarding special education services are imminent. (E.C. 56050)
Community Advisory Committee
The Community Advisory Committee (CAC) functions as an advisory body to the Governance Council and the SELPA Director. It is comprised of parents of individuals with exceptional needs, parents of other pupils enrolled in school, special education teachers and other school personnel, and representatives of local agencies. The committee brings concerns and ideas to the governing body and relates information from the SELPA back to their constituencies. The CAC gives input into the local plan and participates in the development of other SELPA publications.

The goal of the CAC is to empower parents of special education students to become an effective team member in their child's education through flexibility, collaboration, knowledge, and effective communication with other team members.

The CAC is a valuable part of the Special Education Local Plan Area and enhances the potential for effective school/community partnerships. To become involved in the CAC or to get information on meeting times and dates, please call the SELPA office at 827-0949 x 10 or click here.

Resource Parents
Resource parents are a very valuable link to parents as partners. Resource parents are parents of students with special needs who volunteer to provide parent-to-parent support to other parents in special education. Resource Parents are willing to put aside their personal issues to facilitate communication and empower others to work within the educational system. Resource parents are specifically trained and sanctioned by the district. After participation in twelve hours of training in communication, problem solving, and role definition, plus training in the IEP process, an application and interview. They provide consultation and may attend IEP meetings when requested. Please contact the SELPA office for more information.


Parent's Records
Record keeping is not mandatory for parents, but it is definitely to a benefit to keep complete and up-to-date records. Parents will receive copies of any information generated by the school, they may ask for additional copies of information as well. Some parent's like to keep their records organized in a binder or accordion file that includes the following sections:

Family History
Include the name, birth date, and place of birth of family members; parent/guardian name, address, phone number, place of employment, etc., brief health history of parents, grandparents and close relatives.

Developmental History of Child
Include the mother's health during pregnancy and any unusual circumstances at birth or during the infant/toddler stages. Also note the child's behavior patterns and other significant growth and development information.

Medical History and Reports
Include the names and addresses of doctors, dates and nature of serious illnesses and operations, records of the child's immunizations, medications taken, and a copy of the child's birth certificate.

Educational History
Include the names and dates of schools attended; names of teachers and principals and other staff who provided services for your child; copies of IEPs, test results, therapy reports, or progress reports and examples of schoolwork.

Personal/Social History
List the child's interests, clubs and organizations, camps, special awards, and pictures.

Written Correspondence
Include copies of records from any other agencies and letters written or received.

Telephone Log
Log all phone calls or visits from agencies or professionals. Include dates, names, phone numbers, and the purpose and outcome of such contacts.

Pre-Referral Requirements

Updated 4/9/18

The pre-referral process is designed to ensure that school teams make reasonable accommodations and modifications prior to making a referral for a special education assessment. Only individuals whose needs cannot be met in the general education program with accommodations and/or modifications are eligible for special education services.

A student shall be referred for assessment(s) only after the resources of the general education program have been considered, documented and where appropriate, utilized (EC 56303). Prior to a referral for special education by a staff member and/or parent, the site principal, counselor, or designee should utilize a Student Study Team (SST) or other collaborative process to document attempts of general education program accommodations and/or modifications and assure that the individual's needs cannot be met in the general education program.

Adapting the General Education School Program
It is important to remember that program accommodations and adaptations should precede a referral for special education. Although it is important to find and serve individuals with exceptional needs, it is also important to be sure that special education referral is necessary. A student shall be referred for assessment(s) only after the resources of the general education program have been considered, and where appropriate, utilized. Each school site shall be encouraged to organize a study, (i.e. Student Study Team/SST) program composed of both general education staff and specialists for the following purposes:

  • Discussing student needs
  • Developing a set of program accommodation alternatives
  • Selecting from alternative accommodations and adaptations those appropriate to the individual student

Examples are:

  • Alternative instructional methods or materials (such as: shorter assignments, easier materials, classroom contracts, peer/cross age tutoring, special equipment, supplemental instructional programs, instructional aide assistance, etc.)
  • Closer home and school cooperation/agreements: Parent facilitator, parent education, home visits, and home contacts
  • Review available/applicable community agencies and services, and use as appropriate
  • School based general education intervention programs
  • Tutorial programs
  • Adjustment of school day, such as rearranging class schedule or placing into another class for partial or whole day
  • Parent volunteer programs
  • English as a second language program, bilingual programs
  • Early Childhood/School Improvement Program resources
  • Title I program resources
  • General education alternative programs, such as opportunity classes or after school support programs
  • Consultation with on site staff
  • Consultation with district support staff
  • Any other local school/district option that is available and appropriate to student needs, such as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) supplemental educational services

Because each student is guaranteed the right to an education in the least restrictive environment, evidence shall be presented which shows that attempts have been made to continue serving the student in a general education classroom. (Section 56303, Education Code)

Student Study Team (SST) Process
The general education Student Study Team (SST), which includes the parent and student when appropriate, is designed to systematically problem solve difficulties encountered by a variety of students. The SST is a school site team established through general education to serve as a review process for students who encounter problems in the general education program. The team uses a collaborative approach to assist students who are not demonstrating satisfactory progress. The team offers suggestions, organizes resources, develops remediation plans, clarifies issues and problems, establishes accountability, and/or makes direct referrals to other support services. Composition of the SST should include parents, teachers, site administration, support staff, and student when appropriate.

SST Meeting Steps
SST Chair receives meeting request from teacher, counselor, parent, student, administrator
SST Chair sets meeting date, facilitates data collection, observation, file review
SST Chair notifies parents and appropriate participants
The SST meets and:
  Identifies student's strengths and challenges
  Clarifies concerns and provides feedback
  Suggests possible accommodations/modifications/adaptations
  Develops action plan with team participant input and commitment
  Sets follow-up date
A follow-up meeting is held to:
  Evaluate action plan results
  Choose further options, if needed, which may include a referral for special education assessment
  • It is not appropriate to refer a student for possible placement in a specific programs. Referrals are for assessment only.


Parental procedural safeguards and timelines make it necessary to document when a referral has been made. Referrals are required to be in writing and should contain, at a minimum, the following information:

  1. Student's name, address, school, grade, birthdate and teacher
  2. Information on any grade in which the pupil was retained
  3. Parents' names and home and work telephone numbers
  4. Native language of the student (Primary Language from Home Language Survey)
  5. Native language of the parent
  6. Date of referral
  7. Name of the person making the referral
  8. Specific areas of concern
  9. A description of interventions utilized in the regular education program and a summary of the student's response to those interventions.
  10. Specific observed behaviors
  11. Current programs and materials being used with the pupil including accommodations to assist the student in accessing the general curriculum
  12. Current academic functioning
  13. Known significant health problems

Referral for Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973
In many cases, an individual may not require special education services as defined in IDEA but may be eligible for accommodations under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which requires school districts to address the needs of students who are considered disabled which is defined in Section 504 as "any person who has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits a major life activity (e.g., learning). In most cases considerations of 504 eligibility would be made prior to a special education referral. (Please refer to Section 504 Procedures for Serving Students for further information).

Preschool Policies and Procedures

Updated 4/9/18

Planning and communication are essential to provide a smooth and timely transition for children with exceptional needs leaving infant/toddler programs and entering preschool special education services at age three to five. For children who have received services from an Early Start Program the Contra Costa SELPA has entered into coordinated partnerships with neighboring service providers of infant/toddlers. This partnership supports a cohesive, collaborative, and timely transition which allows several systems and various agencies to sustain an efficient process. It is imperative that families provide consent/release to exchange information between the sending and receiving agencies including their school district. In addition, transition for children moving from preschool to school-age programs will require a similar level of coordination and collaboration between families, local educational agencies, special education local plan areas, regional centers, and other community agencies in order to ensure a smooth transition for the child entering kindergarten.

Individual Transition Planning for Infant/Toddler Served in Early Start to Preschool Services
Individuals with exceptional needs between the ages of three and five years who are identified by their school district as requiring special education and services are eligible for special education and services.

To ensure the transition of a toddler to preschool services, under Part B or other services that may be available, the Regional Center and/or the local education agency (LEA) shall participate in a joint transition planning meeting to be held not less than ninety (90) days or more than six months before the child reaches age three.

The purpose of this meeting will be to consider the appropriate process to transition the child from an early intervention service to a preschool service. This transition plan is for the coordination of assessment for determining special education eligibility and to provide parents with information regarding the continuum of educational service options in their school district. Whenever possible the transition plan will be developed by both agencies and the family at a meeting and will include identify a date for referral to the LEA and a proposed date for the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting conducted by the school district. The proposed IEP date will allow sufficient time to enable the eligible student to begin school services on his/her third birthday, or as soon after that birth date as school is in session. Assessment data obtained by one agency will be made available to the other agency, with parental consent. An IEP will be prepared and completed for implementation by the time the child turns three (3).

For Infants referred to the Regional Center for services after the age of 2 years, 10 months, the Regional Center may, with consent of the family, forward the referral to the LEA for assessment and service, rather than conduct the assessment and transition planning meeting.

By 2 years of age
2 years 6 months to 2 years 9 months
2 years 6 months to 2 years 9 months
Infant/Toddler Program Provider identifies Transition steps and those are defined in the Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP). Infant Program Provider is to notify the parent of a toddler who may be eligible for special education that transition planning will occur within the next 3 to 6 months. The Transition planning meeting is held to document the actual transition steps to be coordinated between the infant/toddler program providers and the preschool team by determining suspected areas of disability, coordination of assessment and to answer parent questions regarding the transition process.
Parental consent/release to exchange information between the Sending agency (Infant/Toddler Program) and Receiving agency (school district). With parent consent, the Infant Program Provider will notify the school district of a mutually agreed upon date for a meeting to identify and outline the transition steps.  
2 years 9 months to to 2 years 11 months
By 3 years of age
3 years of age
School district staff (preschool team) completes assessments. Convene an IEP meeting to review assessment results and eligibility for special education services For eligible students services begin in an educational setting focused on developing kindergarten readiness


For children who are referred for to the LEA by their parent and have not received an infant/toddler services through Early Start the procedures to follow are the same as those identified in the Assessment chapter of this Procedures Guide. Please refer to that chapter for specific information.

Individual Transition Planning for Preschool to School-Age Programs
Prior to transitioning a child with exceptional needs from a preschool program to kindergarten or first grade as the case may be, an appropriate reassessment shall be completed to determine if the child continues to require special education services. It is important that the gains made during an early intervention program not be lost by too rapid a removal of support. (Ed. Code, sec. 56327, 56445)

  • Prior to kindergarten, or first grade as the case may be, an assessment must be completed.
  • The personnel who assess the pupil shall prepare a written report, or reports, of the results of each assessment.
  • For children who are determined to be eligible for special education, information regarding present levels of performance should be noted in the written report.
  • For children who are determined to be no longer eligible for special education, information regarding present levels of performance and learning style shall be noted by the IEP team and communicated to the regular education kindergarten teacher.
  • If appropriate, a means of monitoring continued success of the child should be identified by the IEP team for those children in kindergarten who are eligible for less intensive special education services.

To insure a successful transition for children remaining in an intensive special education placement the following steps should be followed:

  • Inform parents of the transition process and timelines including the school calendar.
  • Inform the LEA contact person of the need for transition coordination.
  • Hold an IEP meeting prior to Kindergarten or first grade placement.
  • Assist the family with registration packets.
  • Assist the family with changes in transportation, if applicable.


Updated 11/25/2019

Below is an overview of the continuum of support through a three-tiered model, often referred to as multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS). A three-tiered model for instruction and intervention is based on the principle that academic and behavioral supports are first provided at a universal level to effectively address the needs of all students in a school (often referred to as Tier 1). Tier 1 supports should be present and implemented with fidelity in all settings. If tier I supports are not effective then additional curricula, teaching strategies, and supplemental supports will need to be implemented (Tier 2 Interventions). Finally, a small number of students with the most severe needs will require intensive and individualized behavioral and/or academic support (Tier 3). This is typically where special education services begin and what this chapter of the Procedures Guide addresses. The focus should always be on Tier 1 and Tier 2 personalized de-escalation strategies and interventions before entering Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports for significant behavioral challenges, Tier 3.

California Department of Education's (CDE) Definition of MTSS
In California, MTSS is an integrated, comprehensive framework that focuses on CCSS, core instruction, differentiated learning, student-centered learning, individualized student needs, and the alignment of systems necessary for all students' academic, behavioral, and social success. MTSS offers the potential to create needed systematic change through intentional design and redesign of services and supports that quickly identify and match the needs of all students.
The following core components are key aspects of MTSS frameworks (tier 1 interventions):

  1. High-quality, differentiated classroom instruction. All students receive high-quality, standards- based (with a focus on CCSS), culturally-and linguistically relevant instruction in their general education classroom settings by highly qualified teachers, who have high academic and behavioral expectations, attained through differentiated learning instructional strategies in, such as Universal Design for Learning.
  2. Systemic and sustainable change. MTSS principles promote continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system (district, school site, and grade/course levels). Collaborative restructuring efforts made to align RtI2, CCSS, identify key initiatives, collect, analyze, review data, implement supports and strategies based on data are then refined as necessary to sustain effective processes.
  3. Integrated data system. District and site staff collaborate to create an Integrated data collection system that includes assessments such as state tests, universal screening, diagnostics, progress monitoring, and teacher observations at the site to inform decisions about tiered support placement, as well as data collection methods such as parent surveys for continuous systemic improvement.
  4. Positive behavioral support. District and school staff collaboratively select and implement schoolwide, classroom, and research-based positive behavioral supports for achieving important social and learning outcomes. A strong focus on integrating instructional and intervention strategies supports systemic changes based on strong, predictable, and consistent classroom management structures across the entire system.

California's Multi-Tiered System of Support

Comparing MTSS to RtI2
CDE's RtI2 processes focus on students who are struggling and provide a vehicle for teamwork and data-based decision making to strengthen their performances before and after educational and behavioral problems increase in intensity. Please visit the CDE site: for further information.
Venn Diagram of MTSS and RtI2
The following figure displays similarities and differences between California's MTSS and RtI2 processes. Both rely on RtI2's data gathering through universal screening, data-driven decision making, problem-solving teams, and are focused on the CCSS. However, the MTSS process has a broader approach, addressing the needs of all students by aligning the entire system of initiatives, supports, and resources, and by implementing continuous improvement processes at all levels of the system.

For more information on MTSS visit:

When should we begin a Behavioral Intervention Plan?

Prior to the development of a BIP tier 2 interventions should be implemented. Diana Browning Wright and Clayton R. Cook (PENT) provide us with a progressive response to classroom problem behavior (PROMPT) that meets the definition of tier 2 interventions as follows:

Teachers are constantly in search of methods to respond to problem behavior when it happens to get the student back on track. The PROMPT method is just that-a systematic method of progressively and systematically responding to problem behavior. The aim is to begin with less intrusive and intensive tactics and progressively use more intrusive and intensive tactics to respond to and correct the problem behavior.

Proximity control
Involves standing near the student to correct behavior. For many problem behaviors, the first step before getting involved in a verbal interaction with the student should be to stand next to the student or students who are beginning to engage in off-task, disruptive behavior. The teacher or paraprofessionals presence is often enough to correct problem behavior. Proximity control also involves being mobile and moving about the classroom, which requires students to be alert in order to track and pay attention to the speaker. The idea behind proximity control is to "teach like the floor is on fire." This means to not stand in one place too long or one's feet would burn. Rather, the attentive and aware teacher or paraprofessional is moving around the room and scanning for the earliest warning signs of problem behavior. When problem behavior is observed, proximity control is used.

Involves actually asking the student to do something. The aim here is to regain instructional control over the student. If the student complies with your request, then the student is now under your instructional control and it stops the inappropriate behavior in an attempt to redirect to appropriate behavior. Examples of redirection tactics include:

Ongoing Monitoring to shape behavior
Involves keeping an eye on the student to catch the student behaving good. Teachers and paraprofessionals often miss opportunities to reinforce and praise appropriate behavior after issuing a redirection or using proximity control. After using either of these tactics, the teacher should pay close attention to the student, and at the first signs of good behavior, the teacher should be ready to reinforce (e.g., give points) and praise the student (e.g., "I really appreciate you getting you book out. Thanks a lot!"). By engaging in ongoing monitoring to shape behavior, you will be able to help establish momentum for on task, complaint behavior instead of the problem behavior.

This is also called 'catch the student behaving good.' When a teacher engages in ongoing monitor of the student to shape their behavior to be better in the class, the student is more likely to alter his behavior from inappropriate to appropriate behavior.

Involves providing a direct, explicit, and concise command to the student about what he or she should be doing instead of the problem behavior. Often teachers and/or parents provide commands that are phrased as a question or involve ambiguous language. These commands are often ineffective and do not result in behavior change. An effective command that is delivered as a prompt tells the student precisely the behavior you want him to exhibit instead of the problem behavior.

Students who benefit from a para educator assigned to the classroom due to "special circumstances" often become prompt dependent. That is, their inclusion suffers as the aide applies interventions too restrictive for the students need. Assessment to determine the least intrusive prompt for an activity can be essential to avoid overuse of prompts which interferes with development and maintenance of independence. "Prompt dependence" occurs when either excessively intrusive prompts or a high frequency of prompts predominates. An analysis of the student's need for prompts should occur for each activity in which it is concluded an aide's assistance would be helpful. Requiring either continuous or periodic prompt recording teaches para educators the necessary discrimination on level of prompting and provides data on student progress. Students with disabilities may need more or less prompting across activities, times of day or days during the week. Ongoing monitoring and record keeping is essential for progress monitoring.

Definition of a Prompt: A range of instruction stimuli provided in order to direct an individual toward the performance of a desired response.

Prompting Levels

Prompts range from the least to the most intrusive. The amount of assistance increases with each level in the hierarchy.

    1. Natural Cue: Behavior independently occurs as a result of a natural cue to a stimulus in the environment. The individual performs the behavior without any assistance. WAIT before prompting further.
      Example: Peter stands up to go to lunch when he sees his friends stand up.

      2. Gestural Prompt: Physical gestures that may include pointing, beckoning, or shaking one's head to indicate approval or disapprovaL
      Example: Ms. Browning points to the yellow square to signal time for yellow reading group. Mr. Jones holds up two fingers to signal "quiet now."

      3. Indirect Verbal Prompt: The instructor uses words to imply that some behavior needs to occur.
      Example: Mrs. Keller says, "Children, what time is it?" Students understand it is time to quiet down and open their books.

      4. Modeling: Performing the desired behavior in order to encourage the initiation of that behavior by the individual.
      Example: Mrs. Brown sits up tall in her seat with her hands folded on top of the desk as students come to a reading group. She waits until they copy her behavior.

      5. Symbolic (Pictorial or Written) Prompt: Symbols (pictures or words) are presented to guide behavior. Often a sequence of pictures or a list of words are used, combined with the gestural prompt of pointing to the symbol of the desired behavior for that moment in time.
      Example: Michael has 4 pictures of how to make a pizza which he uses in sequence to prepare a snack. When he appears confused, his teacher gesturally redirects him to the correct picture.

      6. Direct Verbal Prompt: The instructor explicitly state, the behavior that needs to occur.|
      Example: "Boys and girls, please stand up now."

      7. Minimal Physical Prompt: Slight physical contact that guides the individual toward the behavior.
      Example: When Phil does not open the door when verbally told to do so, Mrs. Jones lightly touches his elbow. *Note, depending on the situation, a minimal physical prompt may be less intrusive and facilitate more independence than a direct verbal prompt.

      8. Partial Physical Prompt: The instructor physically starts the individual on the desired behavior, and then ceases the physical assistance so the individual my complete the behavior independently.
      Example: When Phil does not open the door after being lightly touched on his elbow, Mr. Wright gently nudges his arm upward until the knob is touched and then he releases contact.

      Example: John's mother physically positions his finger on the tape player eject button, provides a downward push motion, then moves his hand to grasp the tape. John does not resist, and is curious throughout the episode.

Source: PROMOTING LRE Through Reduction in Prompt Dependence By Diana Browning Wright, 2008
(Adapted from an original by Browning Wright, Kraemer, Morton, 1994)

Teaching Interaction
The teaching interaction is a standardized method of addressing problem behavior that did not respond to lesser corrective tactics. As a result, the teacher or paraprofessional must now to teach to the problem behavior in a structured and systematic way. A teaching interaction treats the presence of chronic problem behavior as an opportunity for the student to learn appropriate, desired behavior.

  • EMPATHY STATEMENT & LABEL THE INAPPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR: Describe the problem behavior of concern followed by an empathy statement (e.g., John, you just took Billy's pencil, I could imagine that you really needed one and some time we want what we don't have).
  • LABEL ALTERNATIVE, APPROPRIATE BEHAVIOR: Describe the alternative, acceptable behavior (e.g., What you should have done instead is ask to use the pencil; then wait for a response)
  • GIVE A RATIONALE: Give a reason why the alternative behavior is better (e.g., Asking to use something before taking it is better because people are more likely to respect us in return)
  • CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING: Ask for acknowledgement (Do you understand?), this is partially to gain compliance and see if the student is willing to cooperate.
  • DECISIONAL MOMENT: Tell the student to think about it. "You can choose to XXXX, or you can have the consequence of YYYY it is your choice"
  • DISCIPLINE CONSEQUENCE: for non-compliance: Deliver the consequence ("Because you took his pencil without asking, and chose not to return it with an apology, you will need to move your seat and lose free time privilege today. Maybe next time you will make a better choice.")
  • PRAISE FOR CHOICE: for compliance: Quietly and privately thank the student for making the correct choice.

If universal interventions at a school site (Tier 1) and selected interventions for students with repeated difficulties (Tier 2) for example annual behavioral goals, are ineffective; the move toward the implementation of an individual Behavioral Intervention Plan must be considered (Tier 3).

The law recognizes that some school age individuals with exceptional needs have significant behavioral challenges that have an adverse impact on their learning or the learning of others. If this is the case, IEP teams must address behaviors that impede the student's learning and/or the learning of others using positive behavioral interventions, supports, and other strategies.

What is the IEP Team's Role?

When a special education student's behavior impedes the student's learning or the learning of others, including serious property damage, the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, including the parent or guardian, determines appropriate positive behavioral interventions to address inappropriate behavior. At this point the IEP team may be determining tier 3 interventions that may include FBA related BIP and FBA related replacement behavior training for the student. The general education teacher, to the extent appropriate, shall participate in the development, review, and revision of the pupils' IEP, including assisting in the determination of appropriate positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies for the pupil, and the determination of supplementary aides and services, program modifications, and supports for school personnel that will be provided for the pupil.

The IEP team will examine any existing BIP, annual goals, etc. and decide whether they need to be revised or continued. The IEP meets to determine if a Functional Behavioral Assessment (FBA) is required, and to determine if an interim plan is necessary for the student while awaiting the result of the FBA. The IEP Team will document the reasons for conducting the FBA, rationale for not developing an interim plan or both. If the IEP team needs additional formal data, or IEP eligibility is in question an Assessment Plan must be generated. Changes to the BIP shall be documented through the IEP process and may be implemented upon parent/guardian consent.

The BIP that the IEP team creates will address reactive strategies to be employed if the problem behavior occurs while the team is implementing the new or revised BIP. While the BIP is designed to teach student's the replacement behavior to eliminate the need for the problem behavior, it takes time for the student to learn specific replacement behavior and implement it consistently. As a result, it is likely that the student could engage in a problem behavior that requires restraint or seclusion. When this is addressed in the BIP the entire IEP team is aware of what that restraint/seclusion will look like. The BIP will only include restraint methods that are the least restrictive alternative that provide maximum freedom of movement, and shall use the least number of restraint points, while ensuring the physical safety of the pupil and others. This includes defining which authorized, approved training methodology will be implemented if the student is a physical danger to self or others. A Behavior Emergency Report is not required because this isn't a new, spontaneous behavior but a behavior that is a known possibility and that is defined in the BIP. Only those trained in specific methodologies will implement those restraint/seclusion methodologies. Training programs that provide trainees with an outline for decision making and problem solving that also teach prevention strategies and de-escalation techniques when responding to disruptive or assaultive behavior meet the guidelines of the law. Training programs whose goal is to teach effective practices to respond safely in order to reduce or eliminate the need to implement restraint or seclusion meet the guidelines of the law. Training of staff should occur on an annual basis. Local Education Agencies should retain records regarding annual trainings. The law regarding the use of restraint and seclusion for students in California is applicable (below):

Behavior Emergency Report

There are times when students will engage in a new problem behavior not previously observed that is a danger to himself or others for which no BIP or IEP goal exists to address the behavior. At this point trained staff may need to implement the use of restraint/seclusion techniques. When this happens a Behavior Emergency Report is completed, parents/guardians are notified, and within two school days of the behavioral emergency the designated responsible site administrator shall schedule an IEP meeting to review the BER, to determine the necessity for an FBA, and to determine the need for an interim BIP. The law regarding the use of restraint and seclusion for students in California is applicable (below):

Law Regarding the Use of Restraint and Seclusion for Students in California

The California Department of Education provides the following information. Assembly Bill (AB) 2657, Statutes of 2018, Chapter 998, went into effect on January 1, 2019. The bill added sections 49005-49006.4 to California's Education Code regarding the use of restraint and seclusion with students receiving both general education and special education. The following information highlights certain passages of the new law, but educators are encouraged to read the entirety of the legislation at

Education Code Section 49005 contains legislative findings and declarations. Subsection (a) says that "While it is appropriate to intervene in an emergency to prevent a student from imminent risk of serious physical self-harm or harm of others, restraint and seclusion are dangerous interventions, with certain known practices posing a great risk to child health and safety." Subsection (i) confirms "This article is intended to be read to be consistent with, and does not change any requirements, limitations, or protections in, existing law pertaining to students with exceptional needs."

Education Code Section 49005.1 provides a series of definitions pertinent to the law's implementation. Subsection (a) says "'Behavioral restraint' means 'mechanical restraint' or 'physical restraint,' as defined in this section, used as an intervention when a pupil presents an immediate danger to self or to others." Subsection (d)(1) defines mechanical restraint as "the use of a device or equipment to restrict a pupil's freedom of movement." Physical restraint is defined as "a personal restriction that immobilizes or reduces the ability of a pupil to move his or her torso, arms, legs, or head freely" (Education Code Section 49005.1[f][1]). Prone restraint "means the application of a behavioral restraint on a pupil in a facedown position" (Education Code Section 49005.1[g]). Seclusion is defined as "the involuntary confinement of a pupil alone in a room or area from which the pupil is physically prevented from leaving (Education Code Section 49005.1[i]).

The law (AB 2657) says that a pupil "has the right to be free from the use of seclusion and behavioral restraints of any form imposed as a means of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation by staff" (Education Code Section 49005.2). Seclusion or a behavioral restraint may be used "only to control behavior that poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the pupil or others that cannot be immediately prevented by a response that is less restrictive" (Education Code Section 49005.4). Several prohibitions regarding the use of restraint and seclusion are listed in Education Code Section 49005.8:

An educational provider shall not do any of the following:

  • Use seclusion or a behavioral restraint for the purpose of coercion, discipline, convenience, or retaliation.
  • Use locked seclusion, unless it is in a facility otherwise licensed or permitted by state law to use a locked room.
  • Use a physical restraint technique that obstructs a pupil's respiratory airway or impairs the pupil's breathing or respiratory capacity, including techniques in which a staff member places pressure on a pupil's back or places his or her body weight against the pupil's torso or back.
  • Use a behavioral restraint technique that restricts breathing, including, but not limited to, using a pillow, blanket, carpet, mat, or other item to cover a pupil's face.
  • Place a pupil in a facedown position with the pupil's hands held or restrained behind the pupil's back.
  • Use a behavioral restraint for longer than is necessary to contain the behavior that poses a clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the pupil or others.

Educational providers, as defined, must also adhere to new requirements. For example, they "shall keep constant, direct observation of a pupil who is in seclusion, which may be through observation of the pupil through a window, or another barrier, through which the educational provider is able to make direct eye contact with the pupil. The observation required pursuant to this subdivision shall not be through indirect means, including through a security camera or a closed-circuit television" (Education Code Section 49005.8[b]).

This section also mandates that an "educational provider shall afford to pupils who are restrained the least restrictive alternative and the maximum freedom of movement, and shall use the least number of restraint points, while ensuring the physical safety of the pupil and others. If prone restraint techniques are used, a staff member shall observe the pupil for any signs of physical distress throughout the use of prone restraint. Whenever possible, the staff member monitoring the pupil shall not be involved in restraining the pupil" (Education Code Section 49005.8[c] and [d]).

AB 2657 requires local educational agencies to collect and report annually to the California Department of Education data on the number of times and the number of students on which mechanical restraints, physical restraints, and seclusion are used. The data must be disaggregated for students who have Section 504 plans, students who have individualized education programs, and students who do not have either plan. The California Department of Education is mandated to post the data on its Internet website (Education Code Section 49006).

Finally, the new law notes that for "an individual with exceptional needs, if a behavioral restraint or seclusion is used, the procedures for follow-up contained in subdivisions (e), (f), (g) and (h) of Section 56521.1 shall also apply" (Education Code Section 49006.4). These existing sections of code pertain to behavioral emergency reporting. The existing statute is accessible at:

What is Included in the Behavioral Intervention Plan?
A Behavioral Intervention Plan (BIP) is used as a proactive action plan to address established challenging/problem behavior(s) that are impeding learning of the student or others. It is assumed that lesser Tier 1 and Tier 2 interventions, including accommodations/modifications, behavior goals, etc., have not been successful in reducing the frequency, duration or intensity of the behavior(s). A BIP must be a consideration for a student on an IEP per the Individual Disabilities Education Act and becomes part of the IEP document if implemented.

If a BIP is developed for a student with a 504 plan, the BIP becomes a part of those documents. Any BIP developed for a general education student is maintained per district policy. For the student on an IEP or 504 plan, the IEP/504 team may be able to discern the function of a behavior with existing data, and as a team, develop a viable BIP. This could be considered a tier 2 intervention. There will be times when the IEP team needs additional support and data in order to draft a meaningful BIP which would require an functional behavior assessment (FBA). The implementation of an FBA moves this intervention to a Tier 3 level.

A BIP includes "positive behavioral interventions and supports." Behavioral Intervention Plans should focus on understanding 'why' the behavior occurred (i.e. 'the function' or 'communicative intent') then focus on teaching an alternative behavior that meets the student's need in a more acceptable way. This includes making instructional and environmental changes, providing reinforcement, reactive strategies and effective communication between IEP implementers and utilizes existing data, current and past IEP's, classroom and IEP goal progress, etc.

The BIP must contain the following elements:

  • A concise description of the target behavior and its function.
  • A description of the desired replacement behavior.
  • Measurable goals for increasing the replacement behavior.
  • Behavioral interventions to use when the target behavior occurs.
  • Recommended techniques to alter the antecedent conditions that prompt the target behavior.
  • Methods and materials to teach the desired replacement behavior.
  • Methods to manipulate the consequences of the target behavior.
  • A list or description of specific reinforcers to use when the replacement behavior occurs.
  • Reactive strategies will be employed if the problem behavior occurs while the team is implementing the BIP that is designed to teach the replacement behavior, thus eliminating the need for the problem behavior. This includes addressing which authorized, approved procedures will be implemented if student is a physical danger to self or others.

Interventions on a BIP may not include:

  • Any intervention that is designed to, or likely to cause physical pain, including but not limited to electric shock.
  • An intervention that involves the release of noxious, toxic, or otherwise unpleasant sprays, mists, or substances in proximity to the face of the individual.
  • An intervention that denies adequate sleep, food, water, shelter, bedding, physical comfort, or access to bathroom facilities.
  • An intervention that is designed to subject, used to subject, or likely to subject, the individual to verbal abuse, ridicule, or humiliation, or that can be expected to cause excessive emotional trauma.
  • Restrictive interventions that employ a device, material or object that simultaneously immobilize all four extremities, including the procedure known as prone containment, except that prone containment or similar techniques may be used by trained personnel as a limited emergency intervention. [Note that Non-violent Crisis Intervention, NCI/CPI, does not include training in prone containment].
  • Locked seclusion, unless it is in a facility otherwise licensed or permitted by state law to use a locked room [Note that schools in California are not licensed or permitted to use a locked room].
  • An intervention that precludes adequate supervision of the individual.
  • An intervention that deprives the individual of one or more of his or her senses.

How is Implementation of the BIP Monitored?

The plan will include specific requirements for monitoring progress, including dates for future team meetings, how minor changes in the plan will be made, what types of documentation will be obtained and who will be notified of possible changes. Be sure to include the names of the people responsible for implementing the plan and how they will be notified if a subsequent behavioral emergency occurs. The BIP becomes part of the student's IEP and as such requires parental consent before changes may be implemented.

The use of Incident Reports

In addition to the data collection that is a part of the BIP your district policy may require documenting incidents that do not rise to the level of a behavioral emergency using an Incident Report. The intent of this data collection is to assist staff in identifying emerging patterns of behavior that may require implementing additional behavioral interventions and supports. The Incident Report documents staff's reactive strategies that could have resulted in an emergency intervention. The Incident Report provides a format for tracking the reactive strategy that the adult provides and its effectiveness as a behavioral intervention/support for the student. The use of Incident Reports is a local education agency decision; therefore, it is important to confirm the process with administrative staff for each education agency.

Emergency Intervention Procedures

An emergency intervention may only be used to control unpredictable and spontaneous behavior which:

  • Poses clear and present danger of serious physical harm to the individual with exceptional needs, or others,
  • Cannot be immediately prevented by a response less restrictive than temporary application of a technique used to contain the behavior.
  • Emergency intervention shall not be used as a substitute for systematic Behavioral Intervention Plans that are designed to change, replace, modify or eliminate a target behavior.
    • No emergency interventions shall be employed for longer than is necessary to contain the behavior.
    • A situation that requires prolonged use of an emergency intervention shall require the staff to seek assistance of the school site administrator or law enforcement agency as applicable to the situation.
  • Emergency interventions shall not include
    • Locked seclusion.
    • Employment of a device, material or objects that simultaneously immobilizes all four extremities, including the procedure known as prone containment, except that prone containment or similar techniques may be used by trained personnel as a limited emergency intervention.
    • An amount of force that exceeds that which is reasonable and necessary under the circumstances.

What should we do when a behavioral emergency occurs?

If the student has an existing BIP:

  • Implement an appropriate behavioral intervention.
  • School staff must complete a Behavioral Emergency Report and file it immediately with the designated site and district program administrator.
  • Notify the parent as soon as possible, but within one school day, that a behavioral emergency intervention was used.
  • A copy of the Behavioral Emergency report must be placed in the student's file.
  • When a behavioral emergency report is written regarding an individual with exceptional needs who has a current behavioral intervention plan that Behavioral Emergency Report shall be referred to the IEP team to review and determine
    • if the incident constitutes a need to modify the existing behavioral intervention plan, o
    • if this is an incident involving a previously unseen behavior problem, or
    • if the previously designed intervention are ineffective.
  • Nonpublic school and nonpublic agency Incident Reports and/or Behavioral Emergency Reports shall be submitted to the appropriate local education agency within 24 hours by mail.

The student does not have a BIP:

  • Implement an appropriate behavioral intervention.
  • School staff must complete a Behavioral Emergency Report and file it immediately with the designated site and district program administrator.
  • Notify the parent as soon as possible, but within one school day, that a behavioral emergency intervention was used.
  • A copy of the Behavioral Emergency report must be placed in the student's file.
  • The site designated responsible administrator shall schedule an IEP meeting within 2 days if a behavioral emergency report is written regarding an individual with exceptional needs who does not have a behavioral intervention plan. The intent of this meeting is to review the Behavior Emergency Report and determine if there is a need for a functional behavioral assessment (FBA) and/or an interim plan.
  • If the team determines no FBA or interim plan is required, the IEP team shall document reasons for not conducting the functional behavioral assessment, not developing an interim plan, or both.
  • Behavioral Emergency data, Incident Reports and Behavioral Emergency Reports, shall be collected by the local education agency.
  • Nonpublic school and nonpublic agency Incident Reports and/or Behavioral Emergency Reports shall be submitted to the appropriate local education agency within 24 hours by mail.


  • Risk Assessment and Behavior Intervention Plan: Consider using this document to assist with BIP design strategies and interventions.
  • Restraint and Seclusion: Resource Document, US Department of Education

20 United States Code Section 1400(5)(F)
California Education Code 56341(a)(b)(1)(2)
California Education Code 56521.1
California Education Code 49005, 49006.4
AB 2657


Updated 9/14/2020

IDEA '04 describes services for students in private school in two separate and very distinct ways:

1) Students seeking FAPE (Free, Appropriate Public Education) from a public school who are enrolled unilaterally in private or non-public programs by their parents, when public schools are perceived to have failed to offer FAPE.

2) Students for whom FAPE is not an issue, but who are seeking special education services to supplement their private or parochial school programs.

This section of the Procedures Guide deals only with elementary and secondary students that fall within category 2 above. These are students whose parents have chosen a private education for personal or religious reasons. While the federal law states that the district is required to spend a proportional amount of federal funding on these students, there is no individual entitlement to special education services for these students. Local Education Agencies are required to locate, identify and assess students with special needs in private school settings. Once assessed, these students can be served according to the Contra Costa SELPA Service Plan.

See the "Child Find" section of the Procedures Guide for more information.

Local Procedures
After consultation with representatives of private schools serving children with disabilities regarding how best to provide special education services, Contra Costa SELPA has selected a consultation model of service delivery. Local Education Agencies (LEAs) and the County Office of Education (COE) will provide consultation related to the private school curriculum and instruction upon request of the parent of a child with disabilities or a private school service provider. Consultation can be provided by the following educational specialists:

  • Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Resource Specialist/Instructional Support Provider
  • School Psychologist
  • Hearing Specialist
  • Vision Specialist

Private schools that serve students with disabilities are also eligible to attend staff development activities conducted by the Contra Costa SELPA. The LEA offering a Service Plan to a private school student should also refer parents or private schools that desire to be on the SELPA's mailing list for staff development to the SELPA office at 925 827-0949 x 10. The SELPA will notify private schools and parents through their mailing list of staff development opportunities.

Child Find Requirements
Local Education Agencies are required by Federal Law to locate students suspected to have disabilities within their attendance boundaries. This requirement extends to private, parochial and home-school settings. Each LEA will notify the private and parochial school of the availability of special education services every year. In addition, the Contra Costa SELPA will place advertisements in local newspapers describing parents' right to an assessment for eligibility for special education services. Schools and parents will be directed to refer suspected children to their local public school for evaluation for eligibility.

Assessment Requirements
Assessments of students in private schools must be conducted according to the same legal requirements as a public school student suspected of having a disability. When a parent suspects that a student may have a disability, they will make a referral to the school district in which the private school is located. This district will ultimately be responsible for conducting the assessment and providing a service plan if the student is found to be eligible for Special Education. However, in Contra Costa County, three of the four SELPAs (Contra Costa SELPA, West Contra Costa, and Mt. Diablo) have agreed to seek written parent permission to notify the student's district of residence of the referral, and allow the district of residence to conduct the assessment. The assessment team from the district of residence, if permission is obtained, or the district of service will develop an assessment plan.
The assessment team may want to meet with the staff of the private school prior to developing the assessment plan. The plan will be provided to the parents and upon agreement; the assessment will be conducted in all areas of suspected disability and in accordance with timelines. Following the assessment, the team will invite the parents and, if appropriate, private school staff, to a meeting to discuss the assessment results and eligibility.

Initial Meeting Requirements

  • The DOL will make an eligibility decision based on their assessment findings, and with written parental permission invite the DOR to the IEP meeting. The DOR is ultimately responsible for offering FAPE if the student is found eligible for special education. If the DOR is unable to attend the initial IEP meeting to determine eligibility, and the student is found eligible for special education, the DOR has 30 days from the date of the initial meeting to offer FAPE. Please see the "Eligibility" and "Individual Education Program" section of the Procedures Guide for more information.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability are interested in enrolling their child in public school, or are unsure about enrolling their child in public school, the IEP team shall develop an IEP for the child. If the parents of a private school child with a disability agree with and consent to the IEP developed by the IEP team, the IEP shall be implemented without undue delay following the IEP team meeting.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability agree with, but decline the IEP developed by the IEP team, the IEP team shall ask the parent to check the box on the IEP Contra Costa SELPA Signature and Parent Consent page that states: "Student enrolled in private school by their parents." Also add, "Refer to Individual Service Plan", if appropriate.\
  • Document in the comments section of the IEP that while the parents agree that their child has been offered a free appropriate public education, including appropriate services in special education, that they are voluntarily placing their child in a private school. Request the LEA to develop a Service Plan, on the LEA Service Plan form in accordance with this policy and federal and state laws and regulations. Continuing eligibility for special education must be revisited at least every three years.
  • In order to ensure that the parents' intentions are clear, the district of residence shall request that the parents sign the following statement on a form entitled Certification of Parent's Decision Not to Enroll in Public School: We/I the Parent(s) of ____ hereby certify that we are not interested in enrolling our child, in a public school. We are not interested in the development of an IEP for our child or in the _____________ (District of residence) offer of a free appropriate public education. We are only interested in a Service Plan from the ___________ school district, which is the district where, our choice of the private school in which we are placing our child is located. We have received the Contra Costa SELPA Notice of Parents' Rights. We understand the notice and that we may place our child in a public school at any time.
  • If the parents of a private school child with a disability are clearly not interested in enrolling their child in public school, and if the child is eligible for special education and related services as a child with a disability, the district of residence shall request the LEA where the private school is located to develop a Service Plan.

Parents must request that a service on the plan be initiated by notifying the person responsible for the implementation, as specified on the plan. The service plan provider will complete a Service Plan in the Special Education Information System (SEIS) using the code for private school student (900, other special education/related services). Districts are required to utilize a proportionate share of their special education federal funds to provide services to parentally placed private school students with disabilities. The Contra Costa SELPA has determined that a proportionate amount of federal funding may have been spent on the private school student when 5 hours of consultation have been completed. This is neither a limit nor minimum, only an average to be used as a guideline. The provider should contact the district administrator for further instructions when the five hours have been reached. Consultation hours will be documented on a Private School Consultation Log that will be forwarded to the special education administrator monthly if service has been provided.

IEP Meetings after the Initial IEP Team Meeting
The requirement for annual and 3-year reviews continues to be the responsibility of the school district of residence for students enrolled in private schools, but if no direct services are being provided, this requirement is minimized. All children with disabilities eligible for special education who reside in the District of Residence are entitled to receive a FAPE from the District of Residence if they are enrolled in public school. One year after an eligible private school child's initial IEP team meeting and annually thereafter, the District of Residence shall notify the child's parents in writing that the District of Residence:

  • Continues to offer a FAPE in accordance with federal and state laws and regulations;
  • Will schedule an IEP team meeting for their child in order to offer the child a FAPE, subject to assessment, if appropriate, if the parents express an interest in enrolling their child in public school.

An annual notice to the parents reminding them of their right to participate in a service plan, request an assessment or enroll in public school is sufficient. An annual notice should be sent to all identified private school students on the anniversary of their eligibility determination.

Districts should mail information to the parents when…

Meetings for parents and private school providers are offered (SELPA will provide flyers.)

Opportunities for staff development are available (SELPA will provide flyers.)

Parents have expressed an interest in enrolling the child in public school and an IEP meeting is required.

Annually by a letter from the special education administrator including a copy of Parent Rights.


Request for Special Education Consultation for Pupils Enrolled by their Parents in Private Schools
When a parent is offered a service plan for consultation services, the district of service special education administrator shall be responsible for the following:

1. Notify the consultant(s) listed on the plan that they will be contacted by the parent or private school

  • The assignment is not part of a caseload; however, the administrator should review the implications of such assignments on the consultant's workload.

2. Instruct the consultant(s) of the parameters of service:

  • Phone contact only.
  • References or sources for finding further information and materials may be provided. No materials may be provided or recommended.
  • No direct service will be provided.
  • No recommendation or suggestion for additional service will be made other than to offer an IEP meeting.
  • No recommendation or referral to other providers will be made.
  • The professional's obligation and the obvious need for direct service have been met by the district's offer of a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
  • Consultation is not related to an individual child or their needs. "Advice" about the needs of a specific child shall not be given. When consultation is requested from the speech/language pathologist, the special education administrator and consultant should remember that ethically, a professional may not instruct or treat solely by correspondence or through a third party. Providing general information of an educational nature is allowed.
  • The consultant or consultation should not refer to the child's IEP or assessment.
  • Generally, contact for one year shall be limited to approximately five hours. The provider should contact the administrator when five hours have been provided.
  • The district's responsibility will have been reached when the total number of hours reaches a calculated total of five hours per identified private school student in the district.
  • Services should be logged and documented. Documentation should be provided to the district administrator monthly.
  • Once the annual service limit has been reached it is the shared responsibility of the consultant and the administrator to communicate and end the consultation service.

3. Document the assignment of staff
4. Collect log sheets from consultant service providers
5. Calculate and monitor annual service limits
6. Include such students in the Pupil Count

Consultation may include:

  • Providing general information of an educational nature
  • Providing references for sources for further information and materials.
  • Providing information on accommodations and modifications possibilities.
  • Providing information about phonemic awareness for articulation students.
  • Providing information on vocabulary development, use of visual cues, and eliciting language through questioning for language development students.
  • Providing information on methods to encourage the students' oral success and comfort in the classroom for fluency students.
  • Providing information on preferential seating, visual cueing and the redundancy of language for hearing impaired students.

Consultation may not include:

  • Recommending or referral to other providers.
  • Providing materials or direct services.
  • Advice about an individual student or his needs.
  • Providing "treatment" through a third party.
  • Direct observation of student or review of work samples.

Questions about these instructions may be addressed by contacting the SELPA office.

Preschool Age Students in Private Settings
State and Federal Preschool Regulations cover students ages 3 to 5 inclusively, and are very different from the Private School provisions for elementary and secondary students. Preschool age students in private settings, or not enrolled in any school, continue to be eligible for direct special education services from their district of residence until their sixth birthday or until they enroll in elementary school transitional kindergarten. Occasionally, parents of young children with disabilities prefer to keep their kindergarten-age eligible children in preschool for an extra year. These children can continue to receive direct special education services until their sixth birthday, as long as the private school they attend has not promoted them to a transitional kindergarten or kindergarten level class.


34 CFR §§300.130-300.144


Posted 8/11/04

The County Office of Education (COE) provides services for students with severe handicaps (SH) and for students with emotional disturbances. Specified district services are also available including: resource specialist services to the Juvenile Court schools, itinerant vision specialist services, itinerant orientation and mobility specialist services, assistive technology specialist services and augmentative communication specialist services.

The Special Education Administrators of County Offices (SEACO) SH Curriculum implemented in county programs for students with severe disabilities results in a certificate of completion. Students enrolled in a county-operated program for students with emotional disturbances may receive a high school diploma through their district of residence upon completion of graduation requirements and meeting requirements of the California High School Exit Examination.

Students may be referred to county special day classes by their district of residence. The district director or SELPA assigned program specialist should contact the COE regional program administrator. The county administrator will be invited to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting where county placement is considered. After an IEP team determines that a county-operated class is the least restrictive placement appropriate to meet the student's needs, referral may be made at the request of the district special education administrator. Placement will be completed following the County Office of Education guidelines.

Resource Link

Contra Costa County Office of Education Special Education Handbook


Scheduling IEP Meetings for Students Placed in County Programs
County administrators will designate an IEP contact person for the district administrator/ designee and notify each district of that responsible person. The district will contact the teacher and parent to set up the date. When the date is set, the district will send the notice in a timely manner (at least 2 weeks in advance) to the COE program administrator's office and the student's family. The COE clerical staff will distribute the notice to related services staff, special education teacher, general education teacher, site administrator and all others. If the COE program administrator is required to attend, the district administrator will coordinate this at the time of scheduling the IEP meeting. It is the district's responsibility to schedule the IEP meeting on or before the due date.

It was discussed and decided at Administrative Council that when the student is participating in a general education class, the special education teacher is the logical person to contact the general education teacher regarding when the meeting will be held. If there is difficulty arranging for the general education teacher to attend the IEP, the special education teacher is to notify the regional program administrator. The COE program administrator will contact the district administrator who will resolve the situation.

It is recommended that COE staff and district personnel collaborate and coordinate regarding student services and the scheduling of IEPs. When scheduling IEPs, district personnel should consider scheduling during teacher contract hours when possible. It is also recommended that district and county staff work together to develop an agenda for the IEP meeting. County teachers may want to develop proposed IEP schedules of when they are available and submit them to the district. For students enrolled in county placements on April lst but leaving COE programs shortly after, or districts holding an IEP meeting on April lst and moving a student from a COE placement, the student will remain on the COE April count.

Guidelines for General Education Participation in IEP Meetings
The following procedure will be used to schedule the attendance of a general education teacher at IEP meetings for County placed students.

  • District of residence secretary/administrative designee contacts the County class teacher to identify potential dates for IEP meeting.
  • County class teacher contacts appropriate County DIS staff and regular education teacher to finalize IEP meeting date and confirm the date with district of residence contact.
  • District of residence sends written notification to County class teacher, DIS personnel, regular education teacher, school site administrator and County Program Administrator.
  • Should the attendance of the County Program Administrator be required, the administrator from the student's residence will directly coordinate their attendance.
  • If the County teacher is having difficulty arranging for regular education participation at the IEP, the administrator from the district of residence will contact the special education administrator from the district of service to resolve the situation.
Resource Link

Referral Process

Updated 8/12/15

A referral is a written request to identify an Individual with Exceptional Needs. A parent, teacher, other service provider or the student himself/herself may make such a referral.

A parent referral must be in writing and the district must respond within fifteen (15) days. Utilization of any district referral forms is not required for a parent request.

Typically a student shall be referred for assessment(s) only after the resources of the general education program have been considered, documented and where appropriate, utilized. Prior to a referral for special education by a staff member and/or parent, the site principal, counselor, or designee should utilize a Student Study Team (SST) or other collaborative process to document attempts of general education program accommodations and/or modifications and assure that the individual's needs cannot be met in the general education program. However, the school site Student Study Team (SST) process cannot be used to delay a referral made by a parent.

When the Local Education Agency's (LEA's) designee receives a referral for assessment, the LEA's designee or assigned staff member must document that program accommodations and/or modifications in the general education classroom have been made prior to the referral. The student's parents or guardians shall be notified of the referral in writing by the site team prior to assessing a student for special education eligibility. If it is determined by the school district that an assessment is not warranted, the district may refuse to assess. Staff must notify the special education administrator of this decision and document the reasons an assessment is not warranted in order for the parents to be notified in a Prior Written Notice. Parents' rights and appeal procedures must be given to the parents, as they have the right to appeal the decision. Such a written response declining the request for assessment must be provided to the parents within fifteen (15) days of receiving the referral.

If it is determined that an assessment is warranted, a proposed written assessment plan must be developed by the site team and given to the parent for approval within fifteen (15) days of receiving the referral. Parents' rights must be included with the assessment plan. If necessary, parent permission for release/exchange of information can be obtained at the same time.

Parents have fifteen (15) days to return the assessment plan to the school. Timelines for the assessment begin when the district receives the signed consent form. The assessment must be completed and an IEP team meeting convened to determine eligibility within sixty (60) calendar days.

Secondary Transition

Updated 1/9/14

Improving transition from school to adult life for all individuals with disabilities is both a national mandate and a district commitment. Recognizing that education is a life-long pursuit, the district provides students who are transitioning to adult life with an Individualized Education Plan that includes a coordinated set of transitional activities, based on assessment of the student's needs and preferences that will lead to the accomplishment of their postsecondary goals. These services may include instruction, related services, community experiences, employment, and, if appropriate, functional vocational evaluation and daily living skills instruction.
While transition planning typically begins at age 15, so that a transition plan is in place as a part of the IEP before the student turns 16, planning can and should begin much earlier. Special Education professionals work with the student and family to develop an Individual Transition Plan which includes transition goals based on assessment and is designed to assist the student to reach long-term student outcomes through a coordinated set of activities.
Vocational preference inventories, aptitude tests, observations, work samples, classroom course work, STAR testing results, and student interviews could be used as part of the transition assessment. This assists the team to determine postsecondary goal areas and develop a course of study to enable the student to work towards his/her postsecondary outcomes. This information is brought to each annual/transition IEP meeting for transition-age students.
Prior to the transition IEP meeting the appropriate notification should be sent to all required team members. The IEP Meeting Notice includes a box indicating that the purpose of the meeting is transition planning. This box should be checked. The transition meeting can be held in conjunction with the annual and/or triennial IEP review(s). Required team members to be invited include the following:

  • The student must be invited to participate in this meeting; however, if the student is not present, those who know the student well should contribute information on the student's behalf. Active student involvement in all aspects of the transition planning process is imperative.
  • The parent(s)/guardian(s) need to be informed of the purpose of this meeting so that they can fully participate. As with any other IEP, they also must be informed of their right to bring anyone else to the meeting who has specific knowledge of the child. This could include coaches, tutors, family members etc.
  • With the consent of the parents or the consent of the student who has reached age 18, the district must invite a representative of a local agency that is responsible for providing or paying for transition services.

At the transition meeting, the information that has been gathered is considered by the IEP team, along with the strengths of the child, the concerns of the parent, the results of the most recent evaluations, and the needs of the child for academic, developmental and functional skills. The IEP team may also determine that further age appropriate assessment, including a functional vocational evaluation, is required in order to identify appropriate postsecondary goals.

  • At least one postsecondary goal is identified for education/training, and an additional goal is identified addressing the student's future employment. These goals must address the IEP team's expectations for what the student will be doing after exiting with a diploma or aging out of special education upon turning 22 years of age.
  • If needed, another postsecondary goal for independent living skills can be added. The team should consider an independent living skills goal particularly for students who have deficits in functional skills.
    Measurable Postsecondary Goals (MPG) begin with a time frame, use results oriented terms and detailed descriptors. Some MPG examples include:
  • After high school graduation, Jeremy will enroll in a Veterinary Technician training program at Diablo Valley College.
  • Following completion of a cosmetology course, Tina will be employed as a hair stylist at her mother's salon.

Upon completing school at age 22, Jane will live in a group home and participate to the maximum extent possible in her daily routines, making choices using technology.

Once measurable postsecondary goals are identified, the IEP team begins the task of determining what transition services or activities are required for the student to achieve the goals. The transition IEP team must consider three separate elements: (1) course of study, (2) measurable annual goals, and (3) transition services and activities designed to address measurable annual goals.

1. Course of Study: The IEP team will look at the course of study required for the student to achieve the postsecondary goal. If the goal requires a high school diploma, the team will determine what courses are required for granting the diploma. If specific prerequisites are required for the student to prepare for postsecondary training or education, the team will write those prerequisites into the course of study.

2. Measurable Annual Goals: The IEP team will examine the goals proposed for the student's annual IEP and make sure that they contribute to the student's progress toward his postsecondary outcomes. Areas of need identified by the IEP team that are not addressed in the annual academic IEP goals should be addressed with specific transition goals.

3. Transition Services designed to address postsecondary outcomes. The IEP team will determine which related services and activities will be necessary to address the student's MPG's. These services should be listed in the "Services" section of the annual IEP form. Some transition services and activities, including mentoring, college awareness, career exploration, travel training, work experience, apprenticeship program, and vocational counseling are more appropriately listed on the Individual Transition Plan (ITP).

The IDEA states that "Transition is a coordinated set of activities." To ensure effective and quality transition services, service providers at the school level must be actively involved with community resources. Collaboration is essential. Documentation of collaboration is required. The Individual Transition Plan form lists the person or agency responsible for each of the transition activities and services. A progress report on these activities is required whenever an IEP review is conducted. If some aspect of the ITP was not completed due to the failure of a community agency to participate, the IEP team must identify alternative strategies to provide the services.
At the conclusion of the student's school career, the district is required to provide a "Summary of Performance" to the student. It must include a description of the student's academic achievement and functional performance, with recommendations on how to assist the student in meeting the postsecondary goals. At this time, if it hasn't been done before, the school should request a permanent address for the student, as data on the student's achievement of his measurable postsecondary goals will need to be collected one year after the student exits the school with a diploma or at age 22. This data must be reported to the CDE on the CASEMIS forms.

[34 CFR 300.321(b)(1) and (3)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)]
[34 CFR 300.321(b)(1) and (3)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)]
[34 CFR 300.43 (a)] [20 U.S.C. 1401(34)]
[34 CFR 300.305(e)(3)] [20 U.S.C. 1414(c)(5)(B)(ii)]


Updated 2/12/18

The purpose of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended, 29, U.S.C. Section 794, is to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities that receive federal financial assistance. Section 504 includes all students who are eligible for special education and extends further to cover a larger class of handicapped students than those who are covered under Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Section 504 is technical in nature and directs all employees as to the minimum actions required to address the needs of the individuals that are protected under this law. Information is provided here to remind each employee of his/her responsibility and the responsibility of each district to establish policies, training and implementation practices that meet these mandates. Each agency with 15 or more employees is required to designate a Section 504 Coordinator. Each employee should be able to identify the Section 504 Coordinator and be familiar with 1) district policy for Section 504 and 2) the district's grievance procedures. The SELPA is available to provide assistance to the district in the development of both policies to meet minimal requirements and to implement best practices with student and parents.

The parent's role under Section 504 procedures is limited, however it is always best practice to consistently communicate with parents and encourage their participation in all meetings. The limitations in the law exist to assure the ability of the employee to implement the law, not to restrict the parent's role. Employees are encouraged to develop relationships with parents that would make them partners in the education of student.

Expectations for best practice include:

  • Timely and frequent communication with parents
  • Informed staff and community
  • Trained employees
  • Implementation of policy
  • Progress review periods and method of evaluation for Section 504 Accommodation Plans. When a student is found ineligible for special education, eligibility for Section 504 shall be considered.

Protection under 504
Any student who has a temporary or permanent mental or physical impairment, which substantially limits one or more of their major life activities, is considered handicapped under Section 504. Basic life activities are "those basic activities" that the average person in the general population can perform with little or no difficulty. Major life activities include functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, working, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, and learning.

It should be emphasized that a physical or mental impairment does not constitute a disability for the purposes of Section 504 unless its severity is such that it results in a substantial limitation of one or more of the major life activities. It is also important to note that the impact of the student's disability must be global in nature, affecting all aspects of a major life activity such as learning. Each district policy should address what constitutes a substantial limitation of a major life activity.

The process for determining Section 504 eligibility begins with an evaluation. The evaluation must be appropriate to the needs and circumstances of the individual student. A meeting involving a group of persons knowledgeable about the student (Section 504 team) will carefully consider any pertinent information as it relates to the student in the school setting.

An evaluation for Section 504 purposes may include information gathered informally and may include some testing (review of records, teacher/parent/student interviews, etc.) The information typically considered comes from several sources: physician reports, parents, teachers, school records, observations or interviews by school personnel, etc. The Section 504 team/Student Study Team may include the student services director or designee, psychologist, guidance counselor, nurse, teachers, parent, and/or student. Unlike IDEA, Section 504 does not give specific timelines for conducting the evaluation, but the district is expected to conduct any evaluation in a timely manner.

Based upon the information, decisions are made regarding whether or not the student has a temporary or permanent mental or physical impairment that substantially limits his/her learning.

  • When determining whether a student's disability substantially limits a major life activity entitling a student to a Free and Appropriate Public Education, the district must focus on learning and behavior.
  • When determining whether a student's mental or physical impairment "substantially limits" the major life activity of "learning," the district must compare the student's academic progress to that of the "average" student, not a student of similar intellectual potential.

Attention Deficit Disorder/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD): A student may be eligible for Section 504 if the student is educationally impacted and substantially limited, depending on the severity of the condition. ADD/ADHD is something that does not necessarily have to be diagnosed by a doctor. If a school site team is concerned about a student's attention, they can consult with their school psychologist who has the means to determine if the student does have an attention issue.

If the student is found eligible, a Section 504 plan is developed.

In general, parents are responsible for obtaining medical diagnoses and treatment for their student. When a medical condition is suspected as constituting a significant impairment of the major life activity of learning, school personnel have the responsibility for reviewing the medical diagnostic reports and determining whether or not the medical condition does, in fact, substantially limit learning. If so, the school personnel then have the responsibility for determining what accommodations are needed in a Section 504 plan.

Eligibility and Placement
Whether or not the student is eligible for Section 504 services will be determined by a consensus of participating public school personnel after consideration of all relevant data, including consideration of any information the parent and student wish to provide. If the student is found to be eligible under Section 504, the 504 team must place written documentation of accommodations in the student's file. The student's eligibility and the specific plan will be reviewed periodically.

A general education classroom with modified instruction, curriculum accommodations, and/or the use of supplementary materials/equipment, is the appropriate setting for students who are determined disabled under Section 504. Adjustments in academic and/or behavioral (and discipline) requirements and expectations may be necessary to accommodate the needs of individual handicapped students to enable them to participate and benefit from general education program and activities. However, the student is entitled to receive any special education services the Section 504 Team decides are necessary for the student to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education.

Section 504 requires that schools design an individualized plan to meet the student's needs.

The Section 504 Plan must address the five following areas:
1. The handicap
2. Evaluation procedures
3. Educational impact of the handicap
4. Free and Appropriate Public Education
5. Least Restrictive Environment (accommodations)

Should the Section 504 team determine a student requires more intense services than can be provided in the general education classroom, written documentation should include:

  • Evidence that a Section 504 plan has not resulted in student progress but has been implemented over a reasonable period of time.
  • Evaluations that are expanded and may include standardized assessments from specifically trained personnel such as speech therapists, psychologists and resource specialists.

Procedural Safeguards
Procedural safeguards are guaranteed under Section 504. They include the following:

  • Prior notice shall be sent to the parent(s) with respect to action regarding the identification and evaluation, or educational placement of the student. Parents are not required to attend the meeting. The parent(s) shall be given an opportunity to examine relevant records.
  • Either party may request a hearing if there is a disagreement that cannot otherwise be resolved.
  • The district shall give the parent(s) notice of rights under Section 504 when any of the above actions occur.
  • Should a disagreement arise between parent/student and the school district, a Section 504 hearing may be requested.
  • If both the district and parent agree, an unbiased Solutions Panel from the Contra Costa SELPA office may be accessed for dispute resolution in lieu of a formal Section 504 hearing.
  • If a Section 504 hearing is held, the parent(s) and student may participate and may be represented by legal counsel.
  • A party who is dissatisfied with the outcome of the Section 504 hearing may seek a review of that outcome in court.

Summary of Section 504 Procedures
Referral: Anyone with knowledge of the student may initiate a referral for consideration of a Section 504 plan by contacting the Section 504 Coordinator at each school and/or district office.
Evaluation: A Section 504 team gathers data regarding the student's suspected disability and current school performance. If any additional information is needed, that information is identified and obtained by the school personnel. The parent is informed of the plan of evaluation.
Section 504 Meeting: The parent is notified of the meeting to determine eligibility for a Section 504 plan. The notification does not have to be in writing.
Eligibility and Section 504 Plan: The Section 504 Team determines eligibility and develops a Section 504 plan as needed. These decisions are documented in writing Teachers are informed of the plan and the plan is placed in the student's cumulative file.
Dispute Resolution: If there is a dispute between the parent and district staff regarding the eligibility or Section 504 the central office administrator responsible for Section 504 matters will be notified. If the dispute cannot be resolved at the district office level, the administrator will appoint a hearing officer to hear the case or schedule a Solutions Panel session. That case will be heard in a timely manner.
Rights: Parents have the right to contest determination of Section 504 eligibility, examine relevant records, an impartial hearing, have an attorney present, and to administrative review Complaints may be filed with the "Office of Civil Rights."

When specific questions regarding Section 504 policies or procedures arise, contact the 504 Coordinator at your school and/or district office.

Key Definitions of Section 504
Individual with handicaps
"…any individual who (i) has a physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one or more of such person's major life activities, (ii) has a record of such impairment, or (iii) is regarded as having such an impairment." (29 U.S.C. Sec.706(8)

Physical or mental impairment "…(A) any physiological disorder or condition, cosmetic disfigurement, or anatomical loss affecting one or more of the following body systems: neurological; musculoskeletal; special sense organs; respiratory; cardiovascular; reproductive; digestive; skin; and endocrine; or (E) any mental or psychological disorder, such as mental retardation, organic brain syndrome, emotional or mental illness, and specific learning disabilities." (34 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104.3)

Major life activities "…functions such as caring for one's self, performing manual tasks, walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, and working." (34 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3)

Has a record of such impairment "…has a history of, or has been classified as having, a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activity." (34 Code of Federal Regulations 104.3)

Regarded as having an impairment "…(A) has a physical or mental impairment that does not substantially limit major life activities but is treated by a recipient as constituting such a limitation: (E) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits major life activities only as a result of the attitudes of others towards such impairment; or (C) has one of the impairments defined but is treated by a recipient as having such an impairment." (34 Code of Federal Regulations Part 104.3)

34 CFR § 104.3(j)
EC §§ 56000 et. seq and 5 CCR §§3000 et seq.

Service Delivery Options

Updated July 2018

The continuum of service delivery options available in Contra Costa SELPA offers a range for consideration by Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams to address the individual needs of students with disabilities. Each public agency must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services (34 CFR 300.115).

It is the responsibility of education to provide eligible students with disabilities a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment consisting of special education and related services with the use of supplementary aids and services based on the individual needs of the student. Options should include attending the neighborhood school, with age appropriate peers, with curriculum accommodations and modifications as appropriate.

Assignment to special classes, special schools or other removal of the individual from the general education environment shall occur only when the nature and severity of the disability is such that education in general classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily and justification for placement has been written (EC 56303). Students receiving special education will be educated with general education students to the maximum extent appropriate as determined by the IEP team.

Special education is specialized instruction and related services that are designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It is individually developed to address a specific child's needs that result from his or her disability and is individualized for each child. Therefore, program titles considered in service delivery options are used to communicate the structures present in a particular setting and are not intended to limit or restrict the flexibility that staff have in providing a set of services to meet the needs of an individual student.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)

Service delivery in the IEP is designed by the IEP team so the student will:

  • Benefit from the instructional program,
  • Have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate,
  • Have a reasonable opportunity to access the curriculum and make progress toward appropriate annual goals and that instruction and services are appropriate, considering the individual student's needs and strengths.

Program titles contained in policy shall be used for purposes of reporting to the California Department of Education (CDE) through the SELPA's Annual Service Delivery Plan, writing IEPs for students, recording student data for the special education pupil count and reporting for program certification. The Governance Council shall present the Annual Service Delivery Plan in a public hearing before reporting to the State. The purpose is to inform the public of the services available in Contra Costa SELPA.

Service Delivery Options Available Include:
  • General Education Classroom
  • Resource Specialist Program
  • Instructional Support Program
  • Related Services
  • Special Day Classes and Centers
  • Nonpublic, Nonsectarian Day School
  • State Special Schools
  • Home and Hospital
  • Residential Placement
  • Instruction in settings other than classrooms
  • Combinations of support services to meet student need

General Education Classroom
General education classrooms offer the best opportunity for students with disabilities to attend their home school with age appropriate peers and have access to the core curriculum, as well as, extra-curricular activities. The general education teacher provides primary instruction with accommodations and modifications including supplementary aids and services designed to meet the needs of the student. Special education instruction and related services may be provided within the general education setting.

The general education classroom offers non-academic benefit of social interaction for all students. General education classrooms, with the use of supplementary aids and services, provide the most contact with general education students and access to general education curriculum.

Authorization for service is provided by general education credentials. Caseload guidelines should take into consideration the other duties assigned to the staff person. Other considerations for serving students with disabilities in the general education classroom include the impact on general education students, as well as, the special education student being served.

All of the following factors shall be considered by the IEP team in determining the appropriateness of placement in a general education classroom:

  1. The educational benefits available to the student with disabilities in a general education classroom, supplemented by appropriate aids and services, as compared with the educational benefits of a special education classroom,
  2. The non-academic benefits of interaction with students who are not disabled,
  3. The effect of the student's presence on the teacher and other students in the classroom,
  4. The cost of mainstreaming the student in the general education classroom.

Resource Specialist Program
Students receive resource specialist services as determined by the IEP team. The majority of resource specialists are assigned instructional assistants to the program. Resource specialist services cover a range of disabilities and can be provided within the general education classroom and/or special education settings. Law to a maximum of twenty-eight (28) students limits resource specialists' caseloads. The service provider must have a Resource Specialist Certification or Mild to Moderate Credential.

The primary focus of instruction is in the core academic curriculum with expanded instructional methodologies to augment those offered in general education classrooms. Special education staff should be focused on accommodating the student in the general education setting and/or remedial activities that would prepare a student to have the skills necessary to be successful in the core academic curriculum in a general education setting.

Students receiving such services should be accessing the core academic curriculum in the general education setting in all areas in which they are receiving special education services. Special education services are not to be used to provide a parallel program but rather arranged to provide supplementary support to what is already being accessed in the general education program including intervention and categorical programs available to all students. Scheduling of all service needs is to be considered. It is particularly important to consider the delivery location of services in order to allow full participation in all core curriculum areas.

Instructional Support Program
Instructional Support Programs or services serve students requiring special education during their school day. Instructional Support may be provided to students within their general education classroom or in a special education setting. Instructional support programs are designed to meet the needs of students based on IEP goals and objectives.

General Education teachers, Resource Specialists, Special Day Class teachers, Speech and Language Clinicians, Instructional Assistants, and/or other support staff may provide instructional support services. Authorization is provided through any credential, which authorizes the provision of instruction and the ability to deliver what is required as described in the IEP. Caseloads are determined by each local educational agency.

The primary focus of instruction is in the core academic curriculum with expanded instructional methodologies beyond those offered in general education classrooms. An example of this would be co-teaching to provide support to special needs and at risk students. Special education staff works in collaboration with all staff (especially general education teachers) in learning and implementing various assessment strategies and in the coordination of differentiated instruction, services, and supports. Through Instructional Support Program leadership the educational team should be focused on accommodating the student in the general education setting and/or in research-based strategies, interventions, and activities that would prepare a student to achieve the skills necessary to be successful in the core academic curriculum in a general education setting. There will be times when Instructional Support Program intervention is provided on a short-term basis.

Students receiving such services should be accessing the core academic curriculum in the general education setting in all areas in which they are receiving special education services. Special education services are not to be used to provide a parallel program but rather arranged to provide supplementary support to what is already being accessed in the general education program including intervention and categorical programs available to all students. The scheduling of all services must consider location for delivery of service to allow full participation in all core curriculum areas.

Related Services (Designated Instructional Service)
Related services mean supportive services that are required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education. Related Services are designed to address specific, specialized intervention when required for a student to benefit from his or her instructional program. Related services can include but are not limited to:

  • Speech and Language Services
  • Audiological Services/Aural Habilitation
  • Orientation and Mobility
  • Adaptive Physical Education
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Vision Services
  • Counseling and Guidance
  • Vocational Education and Career Development
  • Augmentative and Alternative Communication
  • Assistive Technology
  • Physical Therapy

Services shall be provided by a credentialed or licensed specialists and provided in general education classrooms or special education settings. Services may be provided in conjunction with general or special education services. Service may also be provided by a specifically trained instructional aide or other certificated staff under the direction of the credentialed or licensed specialist.

Special Day Classes and Schools
Special day classes and schools provide services to students who have more intensive needs. Students are assigned for a majority of the school day in special day classes and are grouped according to age and instructional needs. Special day class teachers work cooperatively with general education classroom teachers and IEP personnel, helping identify, assess, and plan programs for students with disabilities, and providing classroom instruction. Most often the restrictive nature of a Special Day Class does not allow access to the same instruction, standards, and expectations. Special education credentials meet the federal and state standards for "highly qualified" teachers for the delivery of special education. However, these credentials, in an of themselves, may not meet the "highly qualified" criteria for delivery of course content to meet the standards for completion of high school course credits or assure content areas will be covered to prepare a student for college entrance or placement examinations. Attainment of a high school diploma from a Special Day Class placement is unusual and usually does not occur with only four years of high school.

The primary focus of instruction is on the unique needs of the student based on their age, disability, or severity of the disability as described in the student's IEP. Often the curriculum offers an alternate pathway because of the needs of a student. Special education continues to provide instruction in life skills areas and independent living. Generally assistance is provided that leads to completion of an alternate program and a certificate of completion rather than a high school diploma.

Authorization is provided through credentials that address service to students within the moderate to severe specialty area. Caseload guidelines vary based on the age of the students, type of disability or severity of the disability to be served in the class. Caseloads are determined by each local educational agency.

Nonpublic/Nonsectarian Schools
Placements at nonpublic, nonsectarian schools are available to individuals with exceptional needs when the local school district determines that an appropriate education program which is the least restrictive environment is not available through the public school systems in the Contra Costa Special Education Local Plan Area (SELPA) or adjacent areas. Only state-certified nonpublic schools may be considered. The LEAs should contact the SELPA office to verify that a nonpublic school has a current state license, master contract and established rates. The SELPA is responsible for the master contract process. Each LEA is responsible for the Individual Service Agreement, which assigns IEP-authorized services.

Special Education administrators should carefully consider the credentials, staffing patterns, curriculum, instruction, and student patterns before making a selection of a Non-public School or Agency. The primary focus of instruction is not on the core academic curriculum rather on the age, disability, or severity of the disability as described in the student's IEP. Often the curriculum offers an alternate pathway because of the needs of a student. Special education continues to provide remedial instruction in life skills areas and independent living. Assistance is provided that leads to completion of an alternate program and in some instances a high school diploma.

State Special Schools
Special programs operated by the State of California for the deaf and blind students are available for serving the educational needs of students in day or residential programs. The IEP team will make a recommendation to the state school for determination of the appropriateness of possible placement in day or residential programs. The State Special Schools Division sets the curriculum and high school graduation standards.

Home and Hospital
Specialized services may be provided for students eligible for special education who have a temporary illnesses, disabling injury, or acute health problem. A temporary illness or disability does not include a disability for which a student is identified as an individual with exceptional needs pursuant to California Education Code (EC) Section 56026. Home and hospital services may include individual consultation, home or hospital instruction and other instructional methods including advanced communication technology. Students with or without IEPs who are hospitalized are the responsibility of the district where the hospital is geographically located.

It is the primary responsibility of the parent or guardian of a student with a temporary disability to notify the school district in which the student is deemed to reside of the student's presence in a qualifying hospital. Within five working days following notification from the parent or guardian, the school district shall determine whether the student will be able to receive individualized instruction, and, if the determination is positive, when the individualized instruction may begin. Individualized instruction shall start no later than five working days after the positive determination has been made (EC Section 48208).

When recommending placement for home instruction, the IEP team shall have in the assessment information such as a medical report from the attending physician and surgeon or the report of the psychologist, as appropriate, stating the diagnosed condition and certifying that the severity of the condition preventing the pupil from attending a less restrictive placement. The report shall include a projected calendar date for the pupil's return to school. For those students with exceptional needs with a medical condition such as those related to surgery, accidents, short-term illness or medical treatment for a chronic illness, the individualized education program team shall review, and revise, if appropriate, the IEP whenever there is a significant change in the pupil's current medical condition (5 C.C.R. 3051.4 (c) (d)).

The primary outcome of Home and Hospital Instruction is to maintain a student at the student's former level of performance while recovering from the temporary disability so as not to jeopardize the student's future performance upon returning to school.

The teacher providing the home instruction shall contact the pupil's previous school and teacher to determine:

  • The coursework to be covered,
  • The books and materials to be used,
  • Who is responsible for issuing grades and promoting the pupil when appropriate,
  • For pupils in grades 7 to 12, the teacher shall confer with the school guidance counselor (or appropriate party) to determine the hours the pupil has earned toward semester course credit for each subject included in the IEP, and the grades as of the last day of attendance as well as who is responsible for issuing credits and a diploma if the pupils is to graduate.

Residential Placement
Children with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education (FAPE), including placement at residential programs when necessary. A residential program is a placement at which a child is placed away from his or her home, whether it is an educational placement is the core question in most cases. Generally, to determine whether a residential placement under the IDEA is necessary to provide a student a FAPE, the analysis focuses on whether the residential placement is necessary for educational purposes, or merely a response to medical, social, or emotional problems separate from the learning process.

In some cases, the student may need to leave his or her home state to attend school at a residential program; while in others the student is able to-or even entitled to-placement closer to his or her home. This placement is determined through an individualized educational program (IEP). Some children's challenges are severe enough that they attend intensive programs while continuing to live at home but in other cases the only way a child has access to his or her education is through an educational placement at a residential facility that in some cases will be located out of state.

Like all other related support and services in special education, the local education agency must provide services in a placement that is the LRE. "To the maximum extent appropriate," children with disabilities should be educated in regular classes with their nondisabled peers in a comprehensive school. Residential placements are among the most restrictive educational placements available.

See the attached Residency and Responsibility Chart: Residential Placements for Individuals with Exceptional Needs Pursuant to Education Code Section 56026 (When FAPE is Not at Issue) Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost 2012.

EC 56026, 56100(a)(i), 56001, 56363(b)(4)
California Code of Regulations 3042, 3051.4, 3051.17

Special Factors

Reviewed 6/4/14

In developing a student's IEP, state and federal law require an LEA to consider special factors that might impact the student's success. Document our consideration of those special factors on the Special Factors page of the Special Education Information System (SEIS) page of the IEP.

Each of the five special factors should be a topic for IEP Team discussion, where appropriate. If the team determines that one or more of these factors apply to the student's program, some follow-up action is required. The IEP team chairperson may need to anticipate that one of the special factors is at issue and make sure that the appropriate staff members attend the IEP meeting.

CFR 300.324(a)(2)(i) In the case of a child whose behavior impedes the child's learning or that of others, consider the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports, and other strategies, to address that behavior;
Some things to consider include:

  • Does the child's behavior prevent him from participating in learning activities? If this child frequently misses instructional time or otherwise removed from activities his classmates participate in, consider the use of classroom management strategies. A consultation with a mentor teacher, behavior specialist or school psychologist might be warranted.
  • Does this child's behavior prevent him from accomplishing IEP goals? When reporting on progress on goals, it may have been noted that the child's behavior prevented or detracted from his success on goals. If this is the case, consider using positive interventions, developing goals related to cooperation and task completing.
  • Does this child's behavior result in the use of school discipline policy consequences? If the student experiences frequent office referrals, detentions or loss of privileges, the IEP team should consider developing a Behavior Support Plan (BSP). The Behavior Support Plan could be developed with the assistance of a school psychologist or behavior specialist at the IEP meeting, or done at a later date and brought back to the IEP team for approval.
  • Does this child's behavior result is suspensions that may approach 10 school days during this school year? The IEP team should consider revising the BSP, or if a BSP has not been developed, conducting a Functional Behavior Analysis from which to develop a BSP.
For more information see Procedures Guide section: Discipline


Limited English Proficiency
CFR 300.324(a)(2)(ii). In the case of a child with limited English proficiency, consider the language needs of the child as those needs relate to the child's IEP.
Some things to consider include:

  • Whether the student's CELDT level has improved over time. If not, are additional ELL services required?
  • For students who are not able to take the CELDT, have alternate means of assessment been used?
  • Does the child have linguistically appropriate goals included in the IEP?
  • Does the ELD specialist have additional recommendations for improving English language skills? These should be included in the ELL report.

Vision Impairment
CFR 300.324(a)(2)(iii). In the case of a child who is blind or visually impaired, provide for instruction in Braille and the use of Braille unless the IEP Team determines, after an evaluation of the child's reading and writing skills, needs, and appropriate reading and writing media (including an evaluation of the child's future needs for instruction in Braille or the use of Braille), that instruction in Braille or the use of Braille is not appropriate for the child.

Some things to consider include:

  • Is the student with a diagnosed Vision Impairment receiving adequate vision services from a specialist in this field?
  • How are the student's reading and writing skills impacted by the vision impairment?
  • What adaptations have been made to accommodate the vision limitation?
  • Does the technology currently in place adequately address the student's needs?
  • Is the student's vision impairment progressive and likely to lead to blindness in the future? Would instruction in Braille at this point be advisable?

Hearing Impairment
CFR 300.324(a)(2)(iv). Consider the communication needs of the child, and in the case of a child who is deaf or hard of hearing, consider the child's language and communication needs, opportunities for direct communications with peers, and professional personnel in the child's language and communication mode, academic level, and full range of needs, including opportunities for direct instruction in the child's language and communication mode.

Some things to consider include:

  • Are the student's language and communication needs being addressed in an alternate communication mode?
  • Does the child have direct opportunities for communication with peers and professionals in this language mode?
  • Is the child's academic progress impacted by the communication mode used for instruction?
  • Are there opportunities for direct instruction in the child's language and communication mode?

Assistive Technology
CRF 300.324(a)(2)(v). Consider whether the child needs assistive technology devices and services.

Some things to consider include:

  • Is this student currently able to access the core curriculum using adaptations already in place?
  • How is the student's disability limiting access to curriculum?
  • What is the next thing that the student needs to learn?
  • What level of assistive technology is required in order for the student to learn the next things?
  • Does the student currently have that level of technology available?
  • What needs to be done in order to make that level of technology available to the student?

If the IEP team determines that assistive technology options currently in use may be inappropriate or insufficient for this student, the team should begin the process of determining which specific types of equipment might be appropriate for the student, by seeking additional information. This process begins by completing the AAC/AT Consideration Packet. In completing the questionnaire in this packet, the IEP team will determine whether sufficient expertise on assistive technology is available within their own district, or whether a referral to the Multi-Agency AAC/AT Expert Panel, or the Contra Costa Special Education Program District Specified Services office is appropriate.

For more information see Procedures Guide section: Assistive Technology

Statewide Testing

Updated July 2018

The purpose of this section is to clarify the legal requirements for the inclusion of students with disabilities in state and district-wide assessments. Specific information regarding test administration dates and general assessment information for California public schools can be found at:
Statewide assessments have the following purposes: 1) to show how much a student has learned, 2) to reveal how successfully a school has educated its students, and 3) to help guide instructional improvement strategies. Since instructional and policy decisions are based on data from standards-based assessments, students with disabilities need to be included to the maximum extent possible.

The 2004 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004), similar amendments to California law, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) require the inclusion of students with disabilities in general state and district-wide assessment programs with appropriate accommodations, where required. All states must establish performance goals for students with disabilities that are consistent, to the maximum extent appropriate, with other goals and standards for non-disabled students. All states must establish performance indicators to assess progress toward achieving those goals that at a minimum address the performance of students with disabilities on assessments, dropout rates, and graduation rates.

The above regulations require that states also do the following:

  • Make available to the public, and report to the public with the same frequency and in the same detail as it reports on the assessment of non-disabled children
  • Report the number of children with disabilities participating in regular assessments
  • Report disaggregated data obtained from assessments
  • Develop and administer alternate assessments for children with disabilities who cannot participate in regular assessments with accommodations
  • Report the number of children participating in alternate assessments
  • Report the performance of children on alternate assessments

California's new accountability and continuous improvement system provides information about how local educational agencies and schools are meeting the needs of California's diverse student population based on a concise set of measures. Based on the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF), which was passed in 2013, California has a new accountability system that is based on multiple measures. These measures are used to determine local educational agency (LEA) and school progress toward meeting the needs of their students. The measures are based on factors that contribute to a quality education, including high school graduation rates, college/career readiness, student test scores, English learner (EL) progress, students with disabilities progress, suspension rates, and parent engagement.

Statewide Assessment
On January 1, 2014, California Education Code Section 60640 established the CAASPP System of assessments. The CAASPP System includes the following required assessments and additional resources:

Smarter Balanced Assessments - The Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments, Interim Assessments, and Digital Library are all part of the CAASPP System.

The California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics are given in grades three through eight and grade eleven. The CAA for science is given in grades five and eight and one time in high school. For the pilot test, all eligible grade twelve students will take the CAA for science, and LEAs have the option to test any grade ten or eleven student who has finished their last year of science instruction. Only eligible students may participate in the administration of the CAAs.

Students with the most significant cognitive disabilities who are unable to take the Smarter Balanced Summative Assessments even with accessibility supports and whose individualized education program (IEP) indicates assessment with an alternate test can participate in the California Alternate Assessments (CAAs) for ELA and mathematics in grades three through and grade eleven.

The content of the alternate assessment are based on alternate achievement standards derived from the Common Core State Standards for students with the most significant cognitive disabilities. The CAAs are a computer-based two-stage adaptive test. The CAAs are administer to students in a one-on-one environment with a testing examiner that is familiar with the student. More information about the alternate assessments and the alternate achievement standards can be found on the CDE CAASPP California Alternate Assessments Web page.

California Science Tests (CAST) will be field-tested in spring 2018. Students will be administered the CAST field test in grades five and eight and once in high school. All grade twelve students will be administered the field test, and local educational agencies (LEAs) can elect to administer the field test to any students in grade ten or eleven who have completed their science coursework. The CAST is aligned with the California Next Generation Science Standards.

Assessing Students in Nonpublic Schools, Alternative Education Programs, or State Operated Programs
The school district responsible for the IEP of a student placed in a nonpublic school must ensure that the student is appropriately included in state and district-wide testing programs. It is expected that these students will have the same access to the core curriculum and state and district-wide assessment as students have on the regular school campus.

State regulations state, "no test may be administered in a private home or location unless the test is administered by an employee of the school district with credential status and the employee signs a security affidavit." Nonpublic schools may administer the any state or district mandated assessment at the school site, provided that a credentialed employee of an affiliated school district who signs a security affidavit administers it. No test can be administered to a pupil by the parent or guardian of that pupil.

State-operated programs, such as the California Schools for the Deaf, the California School for the Blind, and alternative and correctional facilities are responsible for including their students in the State mandated testing programs.

Participation Guidelines for Students with Disabilities
The following resources will assist individualized education program (IEP) teams in making informed decisions about student participation in the CAASPP System and about the assignment of accessibility resources that will allow students to demonstrate what they know and are able to do during classroom instruction and on the assessments.

Identifying the Correct Assessment for Students
The first consideration for an IEP team is to evaluate which assessment is most appropriate for the student based on the student's individual learning needs.

Just as students with disabilities should be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE), the student has a right to participate in the assessment program at the "least restrictive" level. If the testing level is too easy for a student, a perfect score does not provide information about the student's knowledge and skills. If a student taking CAPA Level 1 scores in the advanced performance level the IEP team may want to consider having the student take the standard CST assessments. This should not be an automatic decision, but should be considered carefully by the IEP team.

California High School Exit Exam (CAHSEE)
The California High School Exit Examination (CAHSEE), formerly a graduation requirement for students in California public schools, was suspended effective January 1, 2016.

Other State Assessment Programs
Desired Results Developmental Profile (DRDP) is an observational rating scale used in state funded preschool programs, including special education programs. Staff members who are familiar with the students rate their skills in four areas: personal and social competence, effective learning, physical and motor competence, and safety and health. Ratings are conducted twice per school year. Results are submitted electronically to the State Department of Education and are used for program efficacy reviews. They are available to parents upon request, but are not reported in a format that allows comparison with other children.

Participation in and Exemption from General and Alternate Assessment
We expect all students to participate in state mandated testing however, schools or districts may inform parents or guardians of their right to exempt their child from participation in statewide testing, but may not solicit such requests. Whether the parent chooses to exempt the child from the statewide testing program is not an IEP team decision, and should not be discussed at the IEP meeting. Even if the parents indicate that they will seek exemption for their child, the IEP team must still determine what assessments and what adaptations the child will require. Do not check the box "Exempt from assessment due to age or grade level" when a parents indicate that they will seek exemption for their child.

CELDT and the IEP
Most students with disabilities will take the California English Language Development Test (CELDT) with all other students under standard conditions. Students with disabilities may require test adaptations, or may take alternate assessments. Test adaptations are allowed for any student who regularly uses them in the classroom. Accommodations, modifications, and/or alternate assessments must be specified in each student's IEP. Before any adaptation is used, the following activities must be considered when preparing or updating the IEP:

  • The IEP team determines if the student's disability would preclude him/her from taking any or all domains of the CELDT (with or without adaptations).
  • IEP teams review the Matrix of Test Adaptations for Administration of California Statewide Assessments.

Resource Link

Alternate Assessments to CELDT
Some English Learners with an IEP may need to take an alternate assessment aligned with the state ELP standards, if the IEP team determines that the student cannot participate in the regular ELP assessment with or without accommodations. If the IEP team determines that the student's disability would preclude him/her from taking any or all domains of the CELDT (with or without adaptations) they must determine which alternate assessments(s) may be needed for the domain(s) of the CELDT that the student is unable to take. The IEP team must also note how the student's disability precludes the student from taking any or all sections of the CELDT.

The ED guidance can be found at:

Results from a modified or alternate assessment should be used for instructional guidance, initial designation and reclassification decisions of English language acquisition.


Updated 8/12/15

Special education services begin when an Individualized Education Program (IEP) team, including the parent(s), determines that a student is a "student with a disability" who "requires special education and related services" to benefit from his/her education and is eligible. This team meeting is the result of a referral to special education that is preceded by documentation of attempted accommodations and/or modifications to the general education curriculum.

Either the student's teacher or parent may identify a student as a student with a need. At this point, a problem-solving team, sometimes known as a Student Study Team (SST), will convene to discuss the concerns and ways to address them. The SST process is recommended in order to begin and to document accommodations and/or modifications made to the general education curriculum that are required prior to a referral for special education.

For more detailed information, check out:
  Procedures Guide: Pre-referral Requirements
  Procedures Guide: Referral Process

Once the team or parent has submitted a written referral for assessment to determine eligibility for special education programs and services. The school district has fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of a written referral to present an assessment plan to the parent.

After review with the district representative regarding the proposed assessment plan, the parent then has fifteen (15) calendar days to sign in consent and return the plan to the district.

The school district does have the right to decline to assess, with valid reasons. The district must provide notice of the decision not to assess within fifteen (15) calendar days from receipt of the referral. The district must also document and provide the reasons assessment will not be completed.

The school district has sixty (60) calendar days (excluding school breaks of more than five (5) days) from the time of receipt of the signed parent consent for assessment to complete assessment and to schedule and hold the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team meeting. Referrals or Assessment Plans that are received within twenty (20) calendar days of the end of the school year shall be completed within the first thirty (30) calendar days at the beginning of the school year.

At the scheduled IEP team meeting, the team will determine if the student is eligible for special education programs and/or related services. If the student is eligible, the IEP team will develop goals and objectives and determine appropriate services and placement. Services will begin on the date designated in the IEP, after the parent signs the IEP.

Other Important Timelines

  1. Parent requests for IEP meeting: When a parent requests an IEP meeting, the district must hold a meeting within 30 day, not counting days between the pupil's regular school sessions, terms or days of school vacation in excess of five schooldays. The parent's request must be in writing. If the parent makes a verbal request, school staff should direct them to make the written request, and help the parent to do this if necessary.
  2. Beginning of the school year: Every student with special needs must have a valid IEP in effect at the beginning of the school year.
  3. Transition meeting: Each student with special needs must have a transition plan in place in the IEP that will be in effect on his 16th birthday.
  4. Transfer of rights: Each student who will become 18 years of age during the duration of an IEP must have been given an explanation of his rights and have signed the IEP acknowledging that he or she knows that the parental rights will transfer to him or her on the 18th birthday.
  5. Transferring from Early Start to Preschool: Each child enrolled in an Early Start program must have a Transition Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) meeting not more than 9 month or less than 90 days before his or her third birthday. This meeting is required to plan the toddler's evaluation for eligibility for special education services and transition to Preschool or other services. The IEP meeting to discuss evaluation results and if necessary offer a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) must be held before the child's third birthday.
  6. Examining records: School districts must provide parents with a copy of the student's records within five days of a request received orally or in writing.

Transportation of Special Education Students


Updated 4/22/15


Special education transportation is defined in federal regulation as a related service. Transportation is required to be provided if it is necessary for the student to benefit from special education instruction and to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE). Transportation is required for any student with a disability that prohibits the student from coming to school in the manner that his/her peers arrive at school or when the student is placed at a school other than his/her home school or when safety is a concern. Special education transportation from home to school, for therapy appointments and to provide access to extracurricular activities may be provided to students residing in the district as determined by the IEP (Individualized Education Program) team. The specific needs of the student must be the primary consideration when an IEP team is determining any transportation needs.


If transportation may be necessary, the IEP team should complete the "Transportation Eligibility Criteria" form. This form is designed to assist the team in reviewing the options and assuring that the service is required. The form must be completed during initial transportation determination and included in the IEP when transportation is provided. The form documents the team's decision and allows for administrative processing of the authorized service.


Infant and preschool students may require transportation unless the service is taken to the student's location or parent participation is a requirement of the service delivery model, such as in the Early Start Program.

Nonpublic Schools (NPS) may include the costs of transportation in their billing when it is provided directly or by contract with a third party bus company.



Transportation is usually provided when…

  The student is not placed in the neighborhood school,
  An orthopedic disability is present,
  There is a health or sensory impairment present and the nature of the disability makes it unsafe for the student to walk to school.
  Other transportation needs may include, but are not limited to...
    Medical diagnosis and health needs
    Physical accessibility
    Student capacity


Updated 1/9/14

AB3632 Repealed Assembly Bill authorizing County Mental Health to provide services to students. Repealed with Assembly Bill 114

ABA Applied Behavior Analysis

AAC/ATT Augmentative & Alternative Communication/Assistive Technology

ADA Americans with Disabilities Act or

Average Daily Attendance

ADD Attention Deficit Disorder

ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

ADR Alternative Dispute Resolution

APE Adaptive Physical Education

API Academic Performance Index

ASD Autism Spectrum Disorder

ASL American Sign Language

AUT Autism

AYP Adequate yearly progress

BIP/BSP Behavior Intervention Plan/ Behavior Support Plan

CAC Community Advisory Committee

CARS California Association of Resource Specialists

CAHSEE California High School Exit Exam

CAPA California Alternative Performance Assessment

CARS+ California Association of Resource Specialists and Special Education Teachers

CBI Community Based Instruction

CCR Coordinated Compliance Review or

California Code of Regulations

CCS California Children's Services

CCSS Common Core State Standards

CDE California Department of Education

CEC Council for Exceptional Children

CFR Code of Federal Regulations

CMH County Mental Health

COE County Office of Education

COTA Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

CP Cerebral Palsy

CPS Child Protective Services

CST California Standards Test

DCN Diagnostic Center North

DB Deaf-Blind

DD Developmental Disabilities

DDS Department of Developmental Services

DHH Deaf/Hard of Hearing

DIS Designated Instruction Services, same as "related service"

ECSE Early Childhood Special Education

ED Emotionally Disturbed

ELL English Language Learner

ESL English as a Second Language

ESY Extended School Year

FAPE Free Appropriate Public Education

FBA Functional Behavioral Assessment

FERPA Family Education Rights and Privacy Act of 1974

FFH Foster Family Home

FIEP Facilitated Individualized Education Program

GATE Gifted and Talented Education

HH Hard of Hearing

IA Instructional Assistant

ID Intellectual Disability (formerly Mental Retardation)

IDEA Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (PL101-476)

IEP Individualized Education Program

IFSP Individualized Family Service Plan (0-3 years old)

ISP Instructional Support Plan

ITP Individualized Transition Plan

LCI Licensed Children's Institution

LEA Local Education Agency

LEP Limited English Proficient

LI Low Incidence

Local Plan A legal document that describes in detail how the special education local agency will implement special education laws and regulations within its jurisdiction

LRE Least Restrictive Environment

MD Muscular Dystrophy or

Manifestation Determination

MH Mental Health Services

NCLB No Child Left Behind

OCR Office of Civil Rights

OI Orthopedically Impaired

OHI Other Health Impaired

O & M Orientation and Mobility

OSEP Office of Special Education Programs

OT Occupational Therapy or Occupational Therapist

Part C Services to 0-3 year olds

P.L. 94-142 Education for All Handicapped Children Act (Federal Law)

PT Physical Therapy

PTA Parent Teacher Association

RCEB Regional Center of the East Bay

Related Service See DIS

ROC/P Regional Occupation Center/Program

RSP Resource Specialist Program

RTI Response to Intervention

SBA Smarter Balanced Assessment

SBE State Board of Education

SDC Special Day Class

Section 504 Section of the Civil Rights Law (Rehabilitation Act of 1973) pertaining to Special Education

SELPA Special Education Local Plan Area

SEIS Special Education Information System

SESR Special Education Self Review

SH Severely Handicapped

SIP School Improvement Program

SLD Specific Learning Disability

SLI Speech and Language Impairment

SLP Speech and Language Pathologist

SLT Speech and Language Therapy

SSI Supplemental Security Income

SST Student Study Team (Student Success Team, etc.)

TBI Traumatic Brain Injury

Title 5 Regulations California regulations concerning special education laws

VI Visually Impaired

VM Visual motor skills: the ability to coordinate vision with body movement