In 1977, all school districts and county offices of education were required to join to form geographical regions of sufficient size and scope to provide for all of the special education service needs of children residing within the region boundaries. Each region developed a local plan describing how it would provide special education services. The SELPA governance structure varies in form. Single district SELPAs are of such significant size to provide all services within their boundaries while smaller districts joined consortia to provide the full range of services.
There are six SELPAs in San Diego County. Each SELPA must have an administrative unit, the legal entity that receives funds and is responsible for seeing that every eligible child receives appropriate services. The San Diego County Office of Education is the administrative unit for North Coastal, North Inland, East County, and South County SELPAS; the San Diego Unified School District is the administrative unit for its SELPA, as is the Poway Unified School District.