Community Advisory Committees--What are They?
Although parents of special education students may have heard about something called the Community
Advisory Committee (CAC) for special education, many might not know that CACs are mandated
by California state law with their composition and responsibilities spelled out in detail. The California Education Code requires
in Sections 56190-94 that the local education plan in each special education local plan area (SELPA) establish community advisory committees. That means
that every SELPA in the state should have a functioning CAC whose members are to be appointed by and responsible to the governing
board(s) of the districts or county offices which participate in the SELPA. The selection procedure for membership is to be
spelled out in the local plan with terms of appointment set at two years.
Composition of the CAC in each SELPA is required by law to consist of parents of children in special education, parents
of children in general education, pupils and adults with disabilities, regular and special education teachers and other school
personnel, and persons concerned with the needs of individuals with exceptional needs. The majority of the CAC shall be parents
of students enrolled in schools within the SELPA and at least a majority of those parents shall be parents of students in
The minimum responsibilities of the CAC are outlined in state law with additional responsibilities, if any, to be specified
in the local plan. The essential responsibilities include:
- Advising the policy and administrative entity of the district, SELPA or county office regarding the development, amendment,
and review of the local plan. The entity shall review and consider comments from the CAC.
- Recommending annual priorities to be addressed by the plan.
- Assisting in parent education and in recruiting parents and other volunteers who may contribute to the implementation
of the plan.
- Encouraging community involvement in the development and review of the local plan.
- Supporting activities on behalf of individuals with exceptional needs.
- Assisting in parent awareness of the importance of regular school attendance.
Section 56200(f) of the Education Code indicates that SELPAs must verify for the Department of Education that the local
plan has been reviewed by the CAC and that the CAC had at least 30 days to conduct their review prior to submission of the
plan to the superintendent. The law repeats in several sections that development of the local plan, which is the blueprint
for implementing federal and state law in local districts, shall occur cooperatively with input from the local CAC as well
as other groups, ensuring effective participation and communication (Section 56001(f)).
It is then the intent of the legislature that CACs provide a forum for parents to participate locally in advising special
education administration regarding their development and implementation of the local plan which spells out how special education
services will be delivered in individual communities.
Matrix encourages all parents to take advantage of this opportunity to make a positive difference in special education.
The following information will guide you in how to contact your local CAC.