Special Education 

At Excel Academy Charter School, we are committed to serving all students, including those with special needs. We are supported by  the Sonoma County Charter SELPA and employ an internal staff of highly qualified teachers and specialists to serve students across Southern California.or Special education and related services are available to students who are determined eligible through a formal assessment process.   As a public school we are required to follow all laws and regulations under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the California Education Code, including the requirement that all special education students enrolled at Excel Academy are able to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) in the Independent Study setting. 

Special Education Department Contacts

Parent Support

Parent support is available during school hours, Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M.–4:30 P.M. Please see the information below for special education department contact information. 

Mailing Address

Our office is located at:

1 Technology Drive, Ste I-811

Irvine, CA 92618

For all questions regarding continuing students, please first contact your student’s assigned Case Manager (“CM”) for support. You will receive contact information for your student’s CM prior to the first day of school. If you wish to reach a different staff member by email, please use one of the contacts below.

Main Office/General Special Education Information:

Lauren Hansen, Operations Coordinator - lhansen@excelacademy.education 

Records Requests:

Cori McCook, Registrar - registrar@excelacademy.education

Newly Enrolled/Transfer Students & Referral Questions:

Sondra Ryan, Intake Manager - sryan@excelacademy.education

Case Manager and Service Provider Questions:

LaKeyshia Ono, Department Coordinator - lono@excelacademy.education

IEP Questions or Concerns:

Leah Vides, Program Specialist - lvides@excelacademy.education

All of the Above & Any Other Questions or Concerns:

Lara Ulmer, Director of Special Education - lulmer@excelacademy.education

Newly Enrolled Students

Students newly enrolled in Excel Academy Charter School with an active Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will be supported during each step of the transition. Once the admissions process is complete, your student will be assigned to a Teacher of Record, who will walk you through the details of the Master Agreement as well as the Acknowledgement of Responsibilities. Once both have been signed, your student is considered fully enrolled. Our special education Intake Manager will support the process of requesting, gathering, and reviewing your student’s records prior to sending a welcome letter via email describing next steps. Once you have received your student’s welcome letter, please contact our Intake Manager if you have questions.

Procedural Safeguards

Individuals with disabilities and their parents are afforded rights and procedural safeguards to ensure that all individuals with disabilities are provided a free and appropriate public education (FAPE).

Parents can obtain assistance in understanding their rights and procedural safeguards from the Excel Academy Charter School Special Education Department, the Sonoma County SELPA, or the California Department of Education.

Please refer to the following links for the most current Notice of Procedural Safeguards. If you require translation in a language other than Spanish, please contact our office for assistance.

Procedural Safeguards - Spanish 

Procedural Safeguards - English

Frequently Asked Questions

Please contact EACS’ Intake Manager, Sondra Ryan, at sryan@excelacademy.education for additional information.

EACS will not accept requests to develop new relationships with specific special education agencies or providers. The internal special education team currently includes a staff of highly qualified and appropriately credentialed professionals to provide the majority of  IEP services. For any specialty areas in which we do not employ internal staff, an appropriate NPA-approved provider will be identified and assigned within your county of residence. 

Due to the complex nature of matching IEP teams to hundreds of students across several counties, the EACS team is not able to consider requests for specific Case Managers, providers, or related service agencies. 

*If you have a concern to report regarding your Case Manager or a related service provider failing to implement your student’s IEP, please contact Leah Vides, Program Specialist at lvides@excelacademy.education.

EACS provides support to students and families in successfully accessing and participating in independent study. All EACS students must additionally have the support of a primary educator in the home setting during the school day; usually a parent or guardian. We understand that each of our families have different personal circumstances, however, the success of your student in our independent study placement depends largely on the ability of a consistent adult to provide core instruction.

Anytime you have new information regarding your child that may affect their learning it is important to share with the IEP team. Please contact your Case Manager with this information and an IEP meeting will be called to review any new records and discuss if any changes to the current IEP are necessary. 

EACS is required to ensure the provision of all services to your student, by qualified personnel, in accordance with their current IEP offer of FAPE.  We understand that many students additionally receive privately funded services outside of school hours however they cannot replace educationally-based services. If you believe your student no longer requires these services to address their unique educational needs, please contact your student’s Case Manager to request an IEP meeting and discuss their progress. 

EACS is a Non-Classroom based charter school. All special education services are either provided virtually, in-person at a service provider’s clinic/agency, or in-person at a mutually agreed location between the student’s home and the service provider’s location. Service delivery setting (in-person or virtual) is an IEP team decision determined according to the individual student’s needs as a result of their disability. Travel distance is not a consideration when determining whether virtual or in-person services are appropriate. 

Service delivery is an IEP team decision based on the recommendation of the service provider and team discussion. The IEP team will consider the student’s specific needs and IEP goals as a guide when determining the appropriate service delivery group size for each individual student. At times it may be appropriate for a student to receive special education services within a small group setting to support goal progress, while at other times individual services are determined appropriate.

Please contact registrar@excelacademy.education. 

Your first point of contact for all questions regarding any portion of your student’s IEP, or the implementation of services, is your student’s current Case Manager.