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Exceptional Student Services Unit

Offices in the Exceptional Student Services Unit (ESSU)

There are three offices within the Exceptional Student Services Unit: the Office of Gifted Education, the Office of Facility Schools and the Office of Special Education. This website is a resource for teachers, administrators, and parents for students within all three offices.

Office of Gifted Education

The Office of Gifted Education administers the state's Exceptional Children's Educational Act (ECEA) in the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Administrative Units (AUs) oversee and provide educational services to gifted students. An AU is defined as a school district, a board of cooperative educational services (BOCES), or the state Charter School Institute (CSI). The Office of Gifted Education provides AUs guidance for implementation of their gifted program plan and collaborates with the AU to monitor the implementation of key requirements of ECEA.

Office of Facility Schools

The Office of Facility Schools provides systems of support for students and staff that cultivate educational environments that value relationships, compassion, and academic outcomes. The Office of Facility Schools provides guidance, monitoring, resources, and professional development for teachers and administrators and serves both special education and general education students. Facility schools are licensed by the Colorado Department of Human Services or the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and approved by the Colorado Department of Education. Facility Schools are located in day treatment, residential treatment, and hospital settings.

Office of Special Education

The Office of Special Education provides resources for teachers, administrators, and parents of students with exceptional educational needs due to a disability, or learners who are culturally and/or linguistically diverse or have some other special need. 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.

Equity & Excellence Conference

The virtual Equity and Excellence Learning Series is designed to catalyze conversations about resources and strategies to address the impacts of the pandemic on the learning and wellbeing of students and staff. The series is spread out over June 16-17, June 23-24 and August 4-6. Share this link with selected staff to register. Capacity for the Learning Series is limited and CDE encourages timely registration. Registration will close at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, June 9.

Jump to a section:


COVID-19 and Gifted Education

COVID-19 and Facility Schools

COVID-19 and Special Education

  • Special Education FAQs
    Answers to frequently asked questions such as Compensatory Services, Prior Written Notice and Special Education Evaluations can be found in Special Education FAQs.
  • OSEP Q & A's
    To view OSEP issued Question and Answer documents click on OSEP Q & A's.
  • COVID-19 and Special Education
    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

See also: CDE's COVID-19 Resources for Schools page

Keep in Touch

AU Special Education Director of Record and Special Education Fiscal Contact Information.

ESSU must have current contact information for all Special Education Directors and Special Education Fiscal Contacts. We will share important updates and information with you through our listserv, please be sure that we have accurate, updated information. Watch for emails from CDE_SPED for updates and information.

ESSU Newsletter

This monthly e-newsletter is sent to administrators, educators, and support staff and includes information for the Office of Gifted Education, the Office of Facility Schools, and the Office of Special Education.

The newsletter features information on "Recent News," "Training and Professional Development," "OSEP Updates" and "Deadlines." Special Education Directors and Fiscal Contacts are automatically added to the Newsletter listserv.