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CAPSES History

Late in 1970, nine special education directors from southern California met to explore the possibility of forming a professional association aimed at improving communication between the public and private sector. In March of 1971, their idea was realized by the convening their first Annual Conference.

Incorporated in 1973 as a California non-profit corporation, CAPSES’ primary mission is to promote the delivery of quality special education and services in both the non-public and public sectors of education. Focusing on the need for private schools to be heard, as well as the challenge of assisting parents in their search for appropriate special education alternatives, CAPSES pushed forward to create a structure that would grow into the statewide, private, nonprofit professional association that exists today.

CAPSES’ membership currently includes over 170 private special education schools, nonpublic agencies and other individuals interested in the welfare of children with disabilities and the private schools and agencies who serve them. The number of special education students enrolled in California's public schools has grown to 686,352  students in 2013-14 (four times the number enrolled since the California Master Plan for Special Education was first implemented in 1980). CAPSES Member Schools and Agencies currently serve 7,327 students accounting for nearly 80 percent of all children contracted for and placed by California Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPA) and California School Districts in California Nonpublic Schools and Agencies.

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