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Special Education Directors' Corner

COVID-19 and Special Education

View information for educators and parents to support students with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 resources for special education

New or Reorganization Application & Checklist

*Applications for New or Reorganized AUs are due Wednesday, September 1, 2021, for districts seeking to begin operations for the 2022/2023 school year.

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COVID-19 and Special Education

Answers to frequently asked questions such as Compensatory Services, Prior Written Notice, and Special Education Evaluations can be found in Special Education FAQ's.

CDE's Office of Special Education has gathered resources to help answer questions around the COVID-19 pandemic as it relates to special education.

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.

Ascend Colorado (AnLar)

We are excited to announce the successful launch of Colorado’s new State-Sponsored IEP system, Ascend. All deliverables in the contract were met on time, and the system went live on July 1. Ascend Colorado is the new, customized Individualized Education Program (IEP) system developed with the Colorado Department of Education by AnLar LLC.  Please visit the Colorado Ascend website for more information.

CDE Resources

The contract for the Ascend Colorado IEP System is linked below.  The contract was signed on Sept. 22, 2020, which is approximately three months later than the anticipated date of July 1. As a result of the later date, the projected schedule included in the RFP was condensed.  The revised schedule, including completed milestones, is also linked below as well as on the Ascend Colorado IEP System's webpage.

Quick Links

Important Dates Coming Up

Year-at-a-Glance for SY 2021-2022 (PDF)


28   A complete and error-free December Count Snapshot is due

31   2021-22 Federal Application Narrative Amendment window #2 open through February 28


1      2020-21 High-Cost Reimbursement Application window open through March 1

18   December Count Student and Staff Snapshot closes

28   Federal Application Narrative Amendment is due

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

American Rescue Plan IDEA Fund Webpage

Information related to the American Rescue Plan IDEA Fund is now available at

K - 12 Resources for Afghan Evacuees (PDF)

Some new Afghan students, as well as other recently arrived children, may be children with a disability who are entitled to services under Federal disability laws.

FFY 2020 SPP/APR Stakeholder Involvement

Every 6 years, the CDE must reset baselines and targets for Performance Indicators in the State Performance Plan/Annual Performance Report as required by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP). Between June 2021 and February 2022 (submission date), the CDE will be engaging in several layers of internal and external stakeholder meetings to ensure we meet the reporting requirements as set forth by OSEP. SDLT and Special Education Directors at large will be involved in this process in October – December 2021. You can read more information in the FFY 2020 SPP/APR Stakeholder Involvement document posted on the Directors’ Corner webpage.

Changes to the reporting of the graduation status of students with disabilities

Given the implementation of H.B.19-1066, students with disabilities who complete the graduation requirements and continue the services must be reported as “graduates” the year in which the students complete the graduation requirements. The reporting changes have been made to the Student End of Year (EOY) data collection to reflect this new requirement. Please see this guidance document for how these students should be reported starting in the SY2020-21 Student EOY.

ECEA Funding and December IEP Completion Deadline

For the 2020-21 academic year, CDE announced that it would continue to provide ECEA funding for students who were receiving special education services, but did not have a current IEP on file with their district by the December 1 Count deadline (students who were reported with Funding Status Code 51 in the December count). This policy has been extended to SY2021-22 and will apply to the December count 2021. Please review the policy memo from SY2020-21 below. Also, please keep in mind that districts will be required to complete the annual IEP review for these students as soon as practicable, but no later than March 1, 2022.

CDE Policy Related to ECEA Funding and December IEP Completion Deadline for the 2020-21 Academic Year (Updated November 15, 2021)

2021-2022 Standard Record Review - All Age Groups

The Colorado Department of Education (CDE) recognizes that educators, students, and families continue to face unprecedented circumstances and challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, however, the U.S. Department of Education has not granted waivers related to the monitoring of the compliance of IEPs, and we must therefore proceed with the annual IEP review process for SY2021-22. Historically, AUs reviewed IEPs that amount to 3% of the December count IEP enrollment with a minimum cap of 10 and the maximum cap of 50. In SY2020-21, the maximum cap was reduced to 30 to reduce the burden on AUs during this time. CDE will use this reduced sampling amount once again for the upcoming school year’s reviews.  AUs must complete IEP file reviews for all age groups by June 1, 2022. Details of the number of reviews required in each age category and directions for completing the reviews can be found in a document labeled, “IEP Record Review Directions SY2021-22” located in the Attachments List of the Compliance tab in the Data Management System (DMS). 

Changes in reporting educational environments for 5-year-old kindergartners

 Meetings and Conferences

2022 Directors of Special Education Spring Meeting

Save the Date - Thursday, April 7, to Friday, April 8. More information will be coming soon

CDE’s 2022 Special Education Legal Conference

Save the Date - Friday, April 29, 2022

WHO: Designed for individuals involved in developing and supporting special education services for children with disabilities and their families.
WHAT: One-day conference covering current issues concerning the education of students with disabilities with updates on both the state and national levels.
WHERE: Virtual Event Platform and Mobile Application
For updates, visit
(registration information coming soon).

New Directors’ Orientation (NDO)

Information and materials from past NDO meetings

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

Access the recordings and handouts from the 2020 New Directors Orientation (NDO) at the 2020 NDO webpage

For more information email Faye Gibson, or Brittany Deyoe,

Memos to AU and Special Education Directors


Contact Us Icons

Dr. Paul Foster
Executive Director

Email Paul Foster
Phone: 303-866-4093

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