Special Education

Special Education Programs

Special Education services provided by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education (Santa Cruz COE) include a broad continuum of classes and services available to meet the needs of our students. Referral and enrollment of students in Santa Cruz COE special education services is a coordinated, collaborative effort between local district representatives, parents and Santa Cruz COE staff. The educational needs and services for students referred to Santa Cruz COE are identified through the collaborative Individual Education Program (IEP) Process.

Overview of the programs we provide for North Santa Cruz County

PreKindergarten children smiling

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students with disabilities between birth and twenty-two years of age, or until high school graduation, be provided with all “educational and related services” needed to receive a free appropriate education (FAPE). Students with different abilities requiring specialized settings or interventions beyond the scope of services offered by district general or special education programs, or public regional agencies are referred to the Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Special Education Department for enrollment in one of our specialized programs. The parents, district of residence, county office, and agencies collaborate to develop an IDEA compliant Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP) or Individual Education Plan (IEP) based upon student age, levels of functioning and unique needs.

The Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s (Santa Cruz COE) Special Education services are divided into several programs. The Early Start Program provides early childhood education from birth to three to children identified with developmental delays. The Chrysalis Program and beyond provides services to students from preschool through twelfth grade who meet the eligibility criteria as a student with autism. Our special day classes for students with extensive support needs serve students who require specialized services to support their individual needs including the medically fragile. Our post senior programs, housed both at our local community college and high school, serve students with IEP’s who are age 18 to 22. These programs are located on comprehensive school sites throughout the ten local school districts.

The Santa Cruz COE’s Special Education Department is focused on providing each student with highly effective individualized instruction and related support services so each student will achieve their full educational, social, emotional, and vocational potential. Highly trained specialists in the areas of teaching, speech/language, nursing, adapted physical education, psychology, vision, hearing, occupational therapy, physical therapy, orthopedics and work experience serve these students. Some of these specialists also serve students in various district operated special education, and general education programs. Continuing communication and collaboration with parents, school districts, agencies, and local businesses who provide student employment opportunities is essential to our programs.

The Special Education Department includes the following programs:

Early Start Program

The Early Start Program serves special needs infants and toddlers, ages birth to three years of age. These multidisciplinary services are provided to students and their families in cooperation with San Andreas Regional Center in home, community, and other natural environments.

The Chrysalis Autism Program, Middle School and High School   

The Chrysalis Program, a North Santa Cruz County SELPA Regional program, currently serves up to seventy pre-school through 12th grade students from the north county. The Chrysalis Center provides services in four distinct demographic specific classrooms. The Chrysalis Program supports students from preschool through fifth grade. Inclusion with general education students at Live Oak District’s Green Acres Elementary School and Tierra Pacifica is part of the K-5 program; our preschool students gain inclusion experiences through Midtown Montessori preschool which is located within the Chrysalis Center. Our middle school students attend school at New Brighton Middle School, while our high school students Soquel High School.  The programs are overseen by a Program Coordinator in conjunction with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  

Program for Students with Extensive Support Needs

Preschool / Elementary:  ESN classrooms integrate basic skills, life skills, and communication for students who require direct instruction in all areas of development.  Classrooms include students with cognitive challenges as well as medically fragile students.

Middle: ESN classroom provides students with exposure to functional curriculum, prevocational skills, and specialized training focused upon individual student needs.

Secondary/Post-Senior: ESN classrooms integrate functional skills curriculum and pre-vocational and vocational skill training programs. Students in these classrooms at all levels have opportunities for inclusion in general education classes and activities.

Program for Post-Senior Students

This program provides the opportunity for students 18-22 years of age who did not graduate from high school to receive vocational skill training and job experiences in the community. A work experience specialist collaborates with community agencies and local employers in developing individualized programs for each student. 

Here is a link to this year’s Post Senior Calendar (PDF).

School Accountability Report Card (SARC)

Other Online Resources

Child Find

Child Find is about how referrals are made for children identified as needing special education services.

Related Services:

Adaptive Physical Education Specialist
Case Managers/School Psychologists
Hearing Specialist
School Nurse
Speech/Language Specialists
Occupational/Physical Therapists
Orthopedic Specialists
Vision Specialists
Work Experience Specialist