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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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Submit Contact Information for Child Find Coordinator

As required in the corrective action plan for State Complaint 2022.549, CDE must publish the name and contact information for each Administrative Unit’s designated Child Find Coordinator by Dec. 30, 2022.

Please use this form to provide the name and contact information for your designated Child Find Coordinator by Dec. 21, 2022. If you have questions, please contact

Quick Links

COVID Quick Links

Important Dates Coming Up

Year-at-a-Glance for SY 2022-2023 (PDF)


1-Jun     2023-24 Federal Application Project Narrative Amendment Window Opens

1-Jun     2023-24 Federal Application Budget Window Opens

15-Jun   2023-24 Federal Application Project Narratives (NEW) Window Closes

20-Jun   2022 Personnel Status Report Trackers - Phase 4 (11-20 staff issues) Deadline for submitting error-free trackers

30-Jun   2023-24 Special Education Fiscal Assurances/Certifications



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

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:

Michael Cooke, Early Childhood Transition Director
303-906-7636 and


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 Services Under the New UPK System

CDE will begin offering bi-monthly meetings beginning Tuesday, February 7th to share information regarding special education services under the new UPK system.  These meetings will occur at 2:00 PM on the first and third Tuesday of each month.  We will be working closely with the Consortium to determine what information you need and what questions you want us to address.  CDE is inviting representatives from CDEC to sit in on the meetings.

We look forward to meeting and partnering with you moving forward. 

All Meetings will be held from 2 pm – 3 pm and can be accessed by selecting the date below.

First Tuesday Meetings

Tuesday, June 6th, 2023

Third Tuesday Meetings

Tuesday, June 20th, 2023

FAQ on Special Education and UPK Released

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about special education and universal preschool have been released by CDE. The FAQ was developed in response to questions from the field related to preschool special education and universal preschool (UPK). 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.

Additionally, CDE Standards for Placement of Preschoolers with IEPS in Educational Programs has been released. These standards were identified by the Colorado Department of Education based on state and federal special education law, rules, and include supportive resources to assist with implementation.

Please share these documents with others in your system, as appropriate. We anticipate that additional questions and answers will be added to this CDE webpage over time.

Questions may be directed to the Early Childhood Special Education team, or Heidi White, Preschool Director, at

New or Reorganization Application & Checklist

*Applications for New or Reorganized AUs are due Thursday, September 1, 2022, for districts seeking to begin operations for the 2023/2024 school year.

Meetings and Conferences

ESSU 2023 Spring Meeting Registration REMAINS Open Through March 29, 2023

Due to remaining available space, registration will remain open for the ESSU 2023 Spring Meeting. The meeting will be held Thursday, April 13th, and Friday, April 14th, and will be held at the Denver West Marriott, 1717 Denver West Marriott Blvd., in Golden. The primary theme will center on behavior with an emphasis on strategies, resources, and responses related to prevention, intervention, and post-intervention for students with exceptionalities. 

Registration is open on a first come first serve basis and will remain so until capacity is filled and/or end of business March 29, 2023. 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 preselect 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.

The discounted rate for rooms at the Denver Marriott West will be $159 per night.

*If you try to book online and are unable to do so because the discounted rooms are full, email and we can request additional rooms be made available if the hotel has additional space to offer, however this cannot be guaranteed, thus alternate lodging accommodations are suggested.

Other nearby hotels:

For questions or more information, email

Upcoming – ESSU Meetings

  • Fall 2023 ESSU Meeting - Sept. 14 & 15, 2023

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.