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Exceptional Student Services Unit

This unit supports personnel serving students with exceptional educational needs. Technical assistance and programming support are available for students who have disabilities, are gifted and talented, and/or who are culturally or linguistically diverse. This unit administers both the state's Exceptional Children’s Educational Act (ECEA) and the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for children with disabilities. Services and programming for Early Intervention (Preschool) and Colorado’s Facility Schools are also housed in this unit.

The Exceptional Student Services Unit is comprised of three offices:  Office of Special Education, Office of Facility Schools and the Office of Gifted Education. 

ESSU Consultant Responsibility List 


Office of Special Education

Office of Gifted Education

Office of Facility Schools



Address: 1560 Broadway, Denver CO 80202
Room Number(s): 1100

Unit Supervisor: Angela Denning, Executive Director
Administrative Lead: Jason Baggs
Lead Email Address:
Lead Phone Number: 303-866-6694


Office Responsibilities

Unit Vision

All students with exceptionalities are prepared for continued learning and pursuit of post-school opportunities. (In Colorado, "students with exceptionalities" refers to students Pre-K through age 21 with any condition defined as a disability under IDEA 2004 and students identified as gifted and talented in the ECEA, regardless of the setting(s) in which they are served).


Unit Mission

The Exceptional Student Services Unit provides leadership, professional development, and guidance to build the capacity and effectiveness of Colorado educational systems in meeting the academic, social-emotional, and independent living needs of students with exceptionalities - leading to enhanced achievement and post-school outcomes.


Major Projects

Teams/Major Projects

Unit responsibilities include providing professional development, technical assistance and customer service to districts, schools, boards and external stakeholders, and parents concerning special education, gifted and talented education, early intervention (preschool) and facility schools' programs and services.

  • The Access Learning and Literacy (ALL) team is committed to building supportive learning environments and ensuring effective instruction for ALL students with disabilities.  For additional information on eligibility of students with disabilities, accessible assessments, core content and specially designed instruction, accommodations, assistive technology, Colorado Academic Standards/Extended Evidence Outcomes, mental and physical health supports, the Achievement and Literacy Grants and literacy expertise specific to students with disabilities, please contact Tanni Anthony,
  • Approved Facility Schools focus their team efforts to improve educational outcomes of students in facility placements including residential, day treatment, and hospital programs approved to provide educational services.  For additional information, please contact Judy Stirman,
  • Dispute Resolution provides parents and administrative units with information, guidance and training on IDEA Dispute Resolution Procedures. Contact Wendy Jacobs,
  • Fiscal and Operation Services is responsible for all financial aspects of the Unit, including the use of federal funds, and approval of Administrative Units' and State Operated Programs' federal application narratives and performance reports.  All general operations for the Unit are also the responsibility of this team.  For additional information, please contact Barb Goldsby,
  • Gifted Education provides identification guidelines, instructional strategies and curriculum for gifted and talented students thorughout the state through direct service, regional networks, and higher education. Contact Jacquelin Medina,
  • Preschool Special Education and Child Find provides technical assistance to early childhood personnel and programs serving preschool aged (3-5) children with disabilities. Contact Penny Dell,
  • Results Driven Accountability encompasses the analyses of performance data, data collections for state and federal reporting, implementation of the IEP Interchange for the Data Pipeline, monitoring the implementation of the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and family-school partnering to ensure family engagement in the education of students with disabilities.  For questions regarding Results Driven Accountability, contact Toby King,
  • Secondary Transition and Student Outcomes is the team who provides transition information and resources for students age 16-21, including information about SWAP (School to Work Alliance Program). Cross unit work for closing the achievement gap and Turnaround work for students with disabilities are also a focus of this team. Contact Linda Tegtmeier,
  • Statewide Professional Learning Initiatives Team is responsible for developing and providing professional learning options to Administrative Units, districts, and educators throughout Colorado.  The Team oversees the State Systemic Improvement Plan (SSIP), the State Identified Measurable Result (SiMR)Project, the CEEDAR Project, the Directors of Special Education Mentor Project, and a number of literacy initiatives.  We maintain effective relationships with Institutions of Higher Education and support efforts in leadership and educator preparation.  For additional information or to discuss a professional learning opportunity please contact Faye Gibson,



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Contact Us

Colorado Dept. of Education
201 East Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80203
Phone: 303-866-6600
Fax: 303-830-0793
Contact CDE

CDE Hours
Mon - Fri 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
See also: Licensing Hours

Educator Licensing 

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