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Special Education Directors' Corner

Rulemaking Hearings

Stakeholder feedback is being sought prior to two rulemaking hearings for the Administration of the Exceptional Children's Educational Act - 1 CCR 301-8 that will take place at the April State Board of Education meeting. The most current redline version of the Rules can be found here.

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New or Reorganization Application & Checklist

*Applications for New or Reorganized AUs are due Thursday, September 1, 2023, for districts seeking to begin operations for the 2024/2025 school year.

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Important Dates Coming Up

Year-at-a-Glance for SY 2023-2024 (PDF)

September 2023

1st           Parent Survey data collection window is open in the DMS from September 1, 2023, through June 30, 2024

7th           SPED EOY initial error-free due date when a complete and error-free snapshot is due.

8th           SPED EOY initial report review week begins before duplicates next week. Data changes can be made during this week to ensure accurate data before the duplicate process.

15th        SPED EOY complete error-free snapshot is due prior to the resolving duplicates process next week.

18th        SPED EOY resolving duplicates week.

22nd       SPED EOY duplicates resolved deadline; and beginning of the final report review week.

29th        2022-23 Federal Application Budget Window Closes.

29th        SPED EOY final error-free snapshot due date. Final reports must be reviewed, signed, and submitted to CDE.

30th        Post-School Outcomes interviews completed, and data submitted.

October 2023

31st        2022-23 End of Year (EOY) Expenditure Window Closes

31st        2022-23 Performance Reports due

Educational Surrogate Parent (ESP)

Address Educational Surrogate Parent (ESP) questions to:

Katherine Rains                  

Submit form via FAX to:


Mail form to:

Colorado Department of Education
Exceptional Student Services Unit, ESP Assignments
1560 Broadway, Suite 1100
Denver CO 80202

New Special Education Director



AU Special Education Director of Record and Fiscal Contact Information


ESSU must have current contact information for all state-level Special Education Directors and Special Education Fiscal Contacts. Our office communicates important updates and information through our listserv, please be sure that we have accurate, updated information. Communications from this listserv will come from CDE_SPED.

ESSU Newsletter

The ESSU e-newsletter is our office's primary form of communication with the field. It is published once a month and contains information from the Office of Gifted and Talented, Office of Facility Schools, and Office of Special Education.

What's New

HB22-1260 Access to Medically Necessary Services for Students

HB22-1260 Access to Medically Necessary Services for Students requires each Administrative Unit (AU) to adopt a policy that addresses how a student who has a prescription from a qualified health-care provider for medically necessary treatment receives such treatment in the school setting as required by applicable federal and state laws. It also requires each AU to compile and submit aggregate data to CDE annually.

New Process for Verification of UPK Provider

In recognition of changes in staffing availability over the summer months, and a need for a simplified process to ensure preschool students with IEPs are enrolled in UPK programs in alignment with their IEPs, CDE and the Colorado Department of Early Childhood have developed the following updated agreements.  The purpose of this process is to ensure alignment between the UPK placement of preschoolers and the student’s IEP. This method may be used starting now, until further notice, and while longer-term solutions are being developed.

For Students with Active IEPs, Districts, and AUs may:

  1. For AUs that are not registered UPK providers, consider entering a short-term DSA with CDEC. CDEC will work to have a Data Sharing Agreement template available for AUs to sign as soon as possible.
  2. AU’s send a list to CDEC of all preschool children who are not currently matched in alignment with the student’s IEP or students whose families have not yet applied for services through the BridgeCare system through a secured data sharing platform of their choice. Be sure to include: the first and last name of the student, the student's date of birth, the full name of the school where the child should be placed, and the program type (part-time, half-day, full-day).
  3. CDEC will directly place the student in the correct program in alignment with the child’s IEP outside of the deferred acceptance algorithm (DAA).
  4. When the parent-requested placement is different than the IEP team placement, the AU will communicate directly with the family about the need to place the child in accordance with the IEP team’s decision. 
  5. AUs should send an updated list to CDEC on an ongoing basis.

For students identified for special education services and placed during summer months:

  1. IEP teams identify children for eligibility and, when appropriate, place the child.
  2. Support families to apply for services through BridgeCare, in alignment with the student’s IEP.
  3. AUs should include these newly identified students on the list that need direct placement by CDEC. (See number 2 above).
  4. CDEC will directly place the student in the program in alignment with the child’s IEP outside of the deferred acceptance algorithm (DAA).

For consultation and support of direct placement of students with IEPs (outside the UPK BridgeCare deferred acceptance algorithm), please contact:

Angie Delin, UPK Specialist
720-355-4902, Email Angela Delin


Dawn Odean, Director Universal Preschool

Colorado Department of Early Childhood

Cell Phone 720.483.5505 and    

General questions about preschool special education or this process, reach out to Heidi White at and 303-501-0837.

Special Education and UPK

In the latter half of the 22-23 school year, CDE released Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about special education and universal preschool and CDE Standards for Placement of Preschoolers with IEPS in Educational Programs. The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) is responsible for administering special education, while the Colorado Department of Early Childhood (CDEC) is responsible for administering UPK. Answers were developed by CDE with consultation from CDEC. New information and resources, including additional questions and answers will be added on this CDE webpage. Please direct questions to the Early Childhood Special Education team, or Heidi White, at

Meetings and Conferences

Upcoming – ESSU Meetings

  • Registration is now open for the 2023 Fall ESSU Director’s Meeting. The meeting will be held Thursday, September 14th, and Friday, September 15th, and will be held at the Denver West Marriott, 1717 Denver West Marriott Blvd., in Golden, Colorado. The meeting theme will be Strategy Spotlight: Specially Designed Instruction and Differentiated Programming.

    Each administrative unit may register any additional appropriate personnel at this time, but please note that space is limited.  Once full registration is reached, registration will close.  Only those personnel who receive a registration verification email will be permitted to attend.

    Registration will close on August 23rd.  The conference hotel group rate block of rooms is full. Registrants may still book a room through the non-conference rate with the Marriott, however additional lodging options are listed below and may yield a lower nightly rate.

    The conference will feature a smartphone app that will hold the entire agenda, presentation materials, and evaluation opportunities that will be provided after registration.  Attendees will be able to pre-select desired sessions before the event using the app.  For attendees who may require accommodation, please carefully note this on your registration.

    Register here

    CDE will no longer reimburse travel expenses for this event. Reimbursements must be submitted to individual districts.

    Other nearby hotels:

  • Hampton Inn Denver-West/Golden; 17150 W. Colfax Ave., Golden, 
  • Courtyard Denver Golden/Red Rocks, 14700 W. Sixth Ave. Frontage Road, Golden.


For questions or more information, email



New Directors Orientation (NDO)

2022 Orientation for New (or Near-New) Directors of Special Education 

The 2022 Orientation for New (or Near-New) Directors of Special Education will be held on August 29, 2022. View the New Special Education Directors webpage for more information about Orientation for New (or Near-New) Directors of Special Education.   

Information and materials from past NDO meetings

Access the handouts from the 2021 New Directors Orientation (NDO) at the 2021 New Directors' Orientation Resources.

Memos to AU and Special Education Directors


Supporting Displaced Special Education Students

There are many ways that children and families can be displaced. There are floods, fires, and other types of natural disasters that can destroy homes or make them uninhabitable for periods of time. Families can also experience hardships that result in major home life changes.

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Dr. Paul Foster
Executive Director

Email Paul Foster
Phone: 720-926-4033

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If you have problems with broken links or accessing the content on this page, please contact the Exceptional Student Services Unit at Please copy the URL link for this page into the email when referencing the problem you are experiencing.