What is Exceptional Student Services?
ESS is the section of ADE responsible for ensuring that public education agencies in Arizona have special education programs, policies, and procedures that comply with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and its implementing regulations, and that eligible children and youth with disabilities receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE).
Whom do I contact when I have questions or concerns about special education?
There are three ways to seek assistance:
Raising Special Kids (RSK) - RSK is a nonprofit parent organization that provides support and information for parents of children with a full range of disabilities and health care needs from birth to age 26. Programs are offered at no cost to families and are available in English and Spanish. RSK has a toll-free help line (1-888-877-5910) for parents, which is staffed by trained and knowledgeable specialists.
Contact Your School's Program Specialist - Program Support and Monitoring program specialists are assigned to each Arizona district and charter school to provide program assistance. Program specialists offer technical assistance and monitor special education programs in school districts and charter schools throughout the state. To contact the person assigned to your school, click on ESS program specialist caseload list to launch a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet with the list of currently assigned specialists and how to contact them.
Email or call the ESS reception desk to be directed to the assistance needed:
Email: ESS Inbox
Tel: (602) 542-4013
TDD: (602) 542-1410
FAX: (602) 542-5404
What role does the ESS specialist play with regard to special education in the schools?
The ESS specialist provides technical assistance to the local schools regarding state and federal special education requirements. Specialists also monitor districts and charters to ensure the special education programs provided are in compliance with requirements.
What is an individualized education program (IEP)?
Each child found eligible for special education has an IEP, which is a document that identifies the services that will be provided, the goals that the services will target, the setting in which the services will occur, and the amount of time the services will be provided.
What are my legal rights as a parent of a child with a disability?
IDEA gives parents specific rights with regard to special education. These rights are outlined in the procedural safeguards notice that can be found at:
Aviso de las Salvaguardias Procesales
How can I find information about resolving a special education problem I am having with my child’s school?
IDEA and its implementing regulations require States to have in effect three processes to assist parents of a child with a disability and their schools in resolving special education–related issues. Specifically, States must offer:
- a mediation system;
- a due process hearing system; and
- a state administrative complaint system.
Information on each of these processes can be found on the Arizona Department of Education Dispute Resolution website.
What is the purpose of the Parent Involvement Survey?
As part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '04), ESS is required to report how well schools facilitate parent involvement in order to improve services and results for children with disabilities. This data is gathered from parents of children with disabilities through the Parent Involvement Survey and is published in Arizona’s Annual Performance Report (APR)). For more information about the survey, e-mail Parent Involvement Survey or call (928) 637-1871.
Does the Arizona Department of Education provide for students with disabilities to attend private schools?
Students with disabilities who have been placed by their parents in a private school as a matter of choice have no individual entitlement to receive a FAPE, but may be entitled to some special education services provided by the local school district under the “proportionate share” requirement. If an IEP team determines that a private school is the most appropriate, least restrictive setting for a child with a disability, that placement is made at no cost to the parent.
Parents also have an option under Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (ESA).
Whom do I contact if I have concerns about my child's development and/or academic progress?
Contact the school district in which you live or, if your child is already in school, contact the school district or charter school the child attends. Children aged birth to 2 years 10½ months will be referred to the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) for eligibility determination. Children older than 2 years 10½ months are screened and, if necessary, evaluated by the school district or charter school. For more information about the referral process, e-mail the AZ FIND Inbox or call (928) 679-8106.