CCOE ends SELPA contract; County says school districts aren't covering excess costs – and it can't afford them
The Colusa County Office of Education will no longer administer Special Education programs in the county's four school districts as of June 30, 2015, according to a letter sent out Jan. 9.
In the letter, signed by Kay Spurgeon, Colusa County superintendent of schools; and Gary Teragawa, president of the Colusa County Board of Education, administrators say the county can no longer afford to run Colusa County's Special Education Local Plan Area.
The Colusa County Office of Education has operated special education programs for the districts in Colusa County since the Federal Education for All Handicapped Children Act (later renamed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) was passed in 1975, according to the letter.
Before the development of the current Special Education Local Plan Area Plan, all excess costs were funded by the County Office of Education. In 1992, Dr. JoAn Saltzen — then the Colusa County superintendent of schools — determined that the County Office of Education would face bankruptcy if it continued to pay for excess costs.
The districts at that time agreed that the County Office of Education would continue to be the administrative unit (the legal entity that receives funds and is responsible for seeing that every eligible child receives appropriate service) for SELPA and provide district students with needed services on behalf of the districts. The districts, in turn, would pay the excess costs of running the Special Education program, the letter said.
However, the letter said, the current SELPA plan is no longer a viable because the districts are no longer paying for all of the excess costs associated with the Special Education program — and CCOE cannot "sustain the expense of a categorical program operated for the districts and their children without district funding of all excess costs."
CCOE staff plan to work with the districts "to develop viable options and plans for the structure and operation of the Special Education program and the SELPA going forward," the letter said.
The Colusa County Board of Education voted during its meeting on Jan. 8 to terminate the contract.