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Special Education Directors' Corner

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Important Dates Coming Up

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

November 2023

1st    SPED December Count Student and Staff Snapshot open for 2023-2024

December 2023

1st    December Count Date

1st    2022-23 High-Cost Reimbursement Application Window (targeted) Open (dependent upon CDE capacity) Must be open by February 1

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

Policy Statement: Inclusion of Children with Disabilities in Early Childhood Programs

On November 28, 2023, the US Department of Education and the US Department of Health and Human Services released an updated policy statement on inclusion to reiterate the expectation of inclusion in high-quality early childhood programs. All young children with disabilities should have access to high-quality inclusive early childhood programs that provide individualized and appropriate support so they can fully participate alongside their peers without disabilities, meet high expectations, and achieve their full potential.

Colorado excels in providing access to high quality inclusive programs for preschoolers with disabilities. AUs currently report that 92% of preschool children with disabilities in Colorado are served in classrooms with a majority of non-disabled peers and most services delivered inside the classroom. This policy statement reinforces our work and will guide our continuous improvement.

Please take time to read the statement, share it with your networks, and consider local actions to continue to make high quality inclusive settings available for preschoolers with disabilities. CDE believes the updated policy statement supports the continued use of our existing guidance Making Least Restrictive Environment Placement Decisions for Preschool Children, Ages 3 through 5, which offers considerations and discussion points to guide IEP team conversations on early childhood educational environments when determining the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where the child will receive special education services.

 As always, please reach out to a member of our early childhood special education team for assistance or support.

Update on Educational Surrogate Parent and Counsel for Youth Fact Sheet (PDF)

This memo updates and replaces guidance issued by the Colorado Department of Education (CDE) in March of 2023 to address the impact of HB22-1038 on the responsibility of Administrative Units (AU) to assign an Educational Surrogate Parent (ESP) to any IDEA-eligible student who needs one.

Meetings and Conferences

Upcoming – ESSU Meetings

  • Coming Soon

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.

Contact Us Icons

Dr. Paul Foster
Executive Director

Email Paul Foster
Phone: 720-926-4033

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