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Office of Special Education

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 Gifted and 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.

About the Office of Special Education

This office administers both the state's Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA) and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children with disabilities. This website is a resource for teachers, administrators, and parents of students with exceptional educational needs due to disability, or learners who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse or have some other special need. The Office of Special Education is one of three offices within the Exceptional Student Services Unit (along with the Office of Facility Schools and the Office of Gifted Education).

Prior Approval

If your AU is planning a purchase of $5,000 or more (eg. Buses, Software, Construction), or if the purchase exceeds your district’s local policy regarding capital thresholds, you must receive prior approval from CDE if the AU is using IDEA Part B Funds or ARP-IDEA Funds. Any single item purchase that exceeds $5000, or exceeds your district’s local policy regarding capital thresholds, must receive prior approval from the CDE. 

  1. Any single item purchase that exceeds $5000, or exceeds your district’s local policy regarding capital thresholds, must receive prior approval from the CDE. 
  2. Once the AU has completed its prior approval request it should be uploaded to the DMS under the Fiscal Tab.  Please email Kathryn Hunt to advise her that the request has been uploaded.  
    1. Note that the DMS does not generate notifications to CDE staff when a new item has been uploaded.  The AU should follow up via email to ensure a timely review of the request.
  3. If the AU does not already have approval for the appropriate Objective and/or Activity in their most current narrative, for any single item expenditures over $5000, the AU will need to ensure it has addressed Objective 5, Activity 1. The AU must amend both its Federal Application Narrative and its Federal Budget to account for the new activity.  For a single item expenditure of less than $5000, the AU will need to address Objective 5, Activity 2 but it does not need to seek prior approval from the CDE. The AU must provide an evaluation for the new activity.
  4. The AU must amend both its narrative and budget before any expenditures.  These amendments may occur during one of the revision windows after the district has received approval of its request. Revision dates may be found at IDEA Fiscal Timelines 22-23 (PDF). 

Stay Up To Date

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.

Quick Links

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.


Special Education Services for Youth with Disabilities Detained in County Jails

Pursuant to its responsibility for general supervision, the CDE must ensure that IDEA-eligible youth with disabilities receive special education and related services to meet their needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living, including eligible youth detained in county jails. 34 C.F.R. § 300.149. To that end, please review Special Education Services for Eligible Youth with Disabilities Detained in County Jails and ensure that your policies, procedures, and practices align with IDEA and ECEA requirements for detained youth.


Under state law, school districts are required to designate a school district employee to act as the contact person for the county jail(s). This person may also be the designated child welfare education liaison. C.R.S. 22-32-141(3)(a).


To fulfill its responsibility for general supervision, ESSU must have current contact information for employees designated as the contact person for county jails. Please use this form to submit contact information, no later than November 30, 2022.


If you need information about what county jails are located within your AU, you can find it listed in County Jail Contact Information by AU. For questions, please email

2022 Extended School Year (ESY) Job Board

The purpose of the 2022 Extended School Year (ESY) Job Board is to provide support to Colorado Administrative Units who are seeking staff for their 2022 Extended School Year Programs. If you are interested in posting a job flyer, please send to Roberta Curtis ( 

New and Updated OSEP Guidance on Private Schools

OSEP updated its Questions and Answers on Serving Children with Disabilities Placed by Their Parents in Private Schools. This revised Q&A document updates and supersedes the Department’s April 2011 guidance and includes additional questions and answers that address topics that have arisen with the implementation of the provisions of IDEA related to proportionate share and equitable services. Please read the full document, but especially Section N — Proportionate Share Calculation for Equitable Services. It includes several new questions and answers the clarification about which students should be counted and used in the calculation of proportionate share. For questions email Cindy Petersen.

Report from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN)

Out from the Shadows is a recent report from the National Disability Rights Network (NDRN) on the impact of “informal removal,” a term coined by NDRN to refer to an administrative removal of a child from school for a sufficient period of time to constitute a “change of placement” without the necessary legal protections. The report includes important references to federal regulations and guidance, as well as links to recent studies on the impact of exclusionary discipline on students with disabilities. Please contact Candace Hawkins with questions or comments.

Ways to Search this Site

  1. You can use the Google Search box (only searches CDE) at the top right side of the webpage and type in what you are looking for.
    CDE GOOGLE Search Bar
  2. You can use our Topic Index - an alphabetical list of topics for the Office of Special Education.

Having trouble with this webpage?


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.