Special Education

Parent involvement in program development, support services and school and home collaboration is very important to us. We hope you find information on the web site helpful. 

What to Do if You Have Academic Concerns

All people learn at different rates, and have areas of strength and areas of weakness. Some students have such weaknesses that make it difficult for them to access the general education curriculum, interfering with their academic progress. The individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) is a federal law that sets guidelines for schools to ensure all students receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), as required by law. Below is a brief description of the process for providing a student with special education services.

The special education process can be long and complicated. It is designed to take a thorough look into significantly struggling students to gain a better understanding of exactly where they are struggling and why.  When we have this specific understanding of students, we can figure out how best to meet their needs. It can be a very intimidating experience for students and families, but the teachers and special education teams work hard to help families through each step with the ultimate goal of creating happy, self-confident life-long learners.

This sequence of decisions follows the Least Restrictive Environment provision of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and ensures that all options are carefully considered and students are properly placed.

Special Education is defined by the specially designed instruction developed to meet the unique needs of a student with a disability.  Students with disabilities are those students evaluated and found eligible as having;

  • Autism 
  • Development Delay (until age 10) 
  • Emotional Disability 
  • Hearing Impairment 
  • Mild/Moderate Intellectual Disability 
  • Multiple Disabilities 
  • Multiple Disabilities with Severe Sensory Impairment 
  • Orthopedic Impairment 
  • Other Health Impairments 
  • Preschool Severe Delay 
  • Specific Learning Disability 
  • Speech/Language Impairment (including preschool age) 
  • Severe Intellectual Disability 
  • Traumatic Brain Injury 
  • Visual Impairment



  • Adaptive Physical Education
  • Orientation & Mobility
  • Behavior Management
  • Academic - Social Emotional
  • High School Transition Specialists
  • Hearing Impaired
  • Vision Impaired
  • Speech-Language Therapy
  • Occupational and Physical Therapy
  • Preschool Program for Children with Disabilities 

Section 504 Plans

Who Qualifies for a 504 plan?

A student who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.  Major life activities include but are not limited to such functions as learning, reading, concentration, thinking, sleeping, and major body functions and so forth.  A substantial limitation is   limitation in the performance of one or more major life activities or major bodily functions that the average student in the general population can perform.

The 504 Process.

A child may be referred to the 504 team for an evaluation by their parent/guardian, staff member, or even themselves.   The 504 team will evaluate existing data, collect information, and determine the child’s present levels and compare those with the typical student.  The team will make a determination of the child qualifies for 504 plan.  If the child qualifies the team will collaborate to develop a 504 plan.

Length of the 504 plan

Typically 504 plans are developed for one year, unless the disability is short term and does not require a longer plan (e.g. broken arm).  However, any team member may call a 504 team meeting if the interventions appear to not be effective for the child, or new information is available. 

Who Do I Contact About My Child's 504 Plan

If there are concerns about your child's accommodations or needs being met with their 504 plan, please follow the line of communication to assure your concern is addressed as quickly as possible:

Child's teacher(s)
Site 504 Coordinator
School Principal
Coordinator of Special Education
Director of Educational Services



To inquire about a 504 Plan:
Nicole Lee, Administrative Assistant, for Special Education and Federal Programs 
 [email protected]

Site Coordinators:

Nadaburg Elementary
Melanie Watson [email protected] 623-388-2321

Desert Oasis
Marija Arsenovic
[email protected] 623-556-5880

Preschool/Early Childhood
Barbara Staten [email protected]

Child Find

Child Find

The intent of Child Find is that all children from birth through age 21 with delays or disabilities are identified, located and evaluated to receive the supports and services they need.

Public schools and the Arizona Early Intervention Program are responsible for "finding" eligible children and providing services needed for them to reach their developmental milestones or meet their educational needs.

When children are "found", they are referred to a specialist to screen their development. The screening helps "identify" any areas of concern that need to be evaluated further. In order to receive early intervention or special education services, a child must be evaluated to confirm they have a delay or disability that falls under state definitions.

If needed, the child is evaluated using state criteria for specific delays or disabilities. If eligible, the Arizona Early Intervention Program or a public school system will offer early intervention or special education services according to the child's needs.

  • Early intervention supports and services assist families of children who are eligible by helping children ages Birth to three years develop to their full potential. In Arizona, early intervention services are provided through the Arizona Early Intervention Program (or AzEIP).
  • Preschool special education services for children ages 3 to 5 provide special strategies to help children reach their developmental milestones.
  • Special education services for school-aged children in kindergarten through the age of 21 provide specialized instruction and services to assist children in the educational environment.
To participate in Child Find, please contact 

Nicole Lee, Administrative Assistant for Special Education and Federal Programs 
(623) 388-2122 
[email protected]

Developmental Preschool

For traditional preschool programs please visit our Preschool/Pre-K web page.

The developmental preschool program is designed for students with disabilities who are preschool aged to support them in transition to school.   The developmental preschool is located at Nadaburg Elementary School, 21419 W Dove Valley Road, Wittmann, AZ 85361.

Under Child Find, it is our duty to " locate, identify, and evaluate" any child with a suspected developmental delay or other disability. Please contact our special education department if you have questions about Child Find or would like more information about special education services.

Areas of Eligibility

Preschool Speech Language Impairment-
The child demonstrates performance on a norm-referenced language test that measures at least 1.5 standard deviations below the mean for children of the same age or
The child’s speech, out of context, is unintelligible to a listener who is unfamiliar with the child

Preschool Moderate Delay- child demonstrates performance on a norm-referenced test that measures at least 1.5 but not more than 3.0 standard deviations below the mean for children of the same age in two or more areas of development.

Preschool Severe Delay- The child demonstrates performance on a norm-referenced test that measures more than 3.0 standard deviations below the mean for children of the same age in one or more developmental areas.

Preschool Vision Impairment-
The student has a loss of visual acuity or loss of visual field that, even with correction, adversely affects performance in the educational environment.The term includes both partial sight and blindness.
An ophthalmologist or optometrist has verified the visual impairment.

Preschool Hearing Impairment-
The student has a loss of hearing acuity that adversely affects performance in the educational environment.
An audiologist through an audiological evaluation has verified the hearing loss.
A communication/language proficiency evaluation has been conducted.


Mary Soto                                     
Preschool Director/Developmental Teacher
[email protected]

Nicole Lee
Special Education Administrative Assistant
[email protected]


School Age Programs


Resource is a special education service that is provided to students as a part of the child's instructional supports.  The goal of the resource program is to address the unique needs of students in the areas of academics and social/emotional support in each child's least restrictive environment.  Students who are identified with a qualifying disability receive an Individual Education Plan (IEP) that is developed through the MET (Multidisciplinary Evaluation Team) in which parents/guardians are encouraged to be active participants.  Students receive support in areas identified on their IEP with established goals.  Resource may occur in a classroom with a smaller setting, or integrated in the child's general education classroom depending on the child's IEP accommodations and modifications.



The Navigator program is for students in grades K-8 that have delays requiring higher level of supports.  Students become members of a Navigator class with specific goals to meet their academic and/or social/emotional needs.  Navigator classes are smaller than a typical classroom size with a certified teacher, and highly qualified paraprofessionals.  The goal of the Navigator program is to give students the skills and strategies to be successful in a general education setting when they are ready.  



The Compass program is for students who need extensive supports with social/emotional concerns.  Students in grades K-8 are assigned to a small classroom environment with a certified teacher, and highly qualified paraprofessionals.  Students work with a counselor and behavior coach to develop the skills they need to interact appropriately in social situations.  The Compass program goal is to have students gain strategies and skills in order to return to a general education program and be successful with their peers. 

Signature Curriculum

Life Skills

Our life skills program is a unique environment where students can develop their daily living skills.  The "apartment" includes a kitchen, laundry room, and living and sleeping areas.  In the kitchen students learn to organize a kitchen, create/follow recipes, prepare food safely, and clean the kitchen.  In the laundry area they learn how to utilize equipment, wash laundry, and fold a variety of clothing.  In the living and dining area they learn how to maintain a welcoming living environment, socialize with others, and keep the area clean.  In the sleeping area they learn how to change linens and make a bed.

Sensory Area

Our state of the art sensory area is an excellent quiet environment for students to manage sensory concerns.  The room is equipped with a large ball pit, swing, music, and a wide array of sensory materials to support the student.  The sensory room is used as a tool to assist students experiencing a sensory issue, it is never utilized as a consequence for behavior.

Corrective Reading

Corrective Reading is a research based, and proven reading intervention program that supports students in grades 3-8 who are reading below grade level.  Based on assessment students are placed in a cohort of readers, and they progress towards mastery in decoding, fluency, and comprehension.  Students who participate in Corrective Reading tend to show improvement by one to two grade levels per a year (Long, 2014). 

Long, Kate, "Effects of Corrective Reading Decoding on the Reading Fluency Skills of Students with Mild Intellectual Disabilities" (2014). Specialist in Education Degree (Ed.S.) Theses. Paper 5.

Support Services

Occupational Therapy

Students who participate in occupational therapy receive instruction to improve their fine motor skills; typically many of the students are working on handwriting skills.  Students who receive occupational therapy will have goals in their IEP and meet with their therapist as prescribed by the IEP.

Physical Therapy

​The emphasis of school-based physical therapy is to help students access the academic environment and participate in educationally related activities as part of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Physical therapy services are provided primarily through an integrated service model, meaning services are a combination of direct student-therapist contact with consultation and instruction to others involved in the student’s educational program. Physical therapy services include activities that address mobility, educational, and work activities.

Speech and Language

Speech disorders occur when a person is unable to produce speech sounds correctly or fluently, or has problems with their voice or resonance. Language disorders occur when a person has trouble understanding others (receptive language), or sharing thoughts, ideas, and feelings (expressive language). Speech Language Pathologist or assistants work individually or in small groups, with students using conversation and targeted activities to enable students to communicate effectively.

Counseling and Behavior Coach

The district provides a full-time counselor and behavior coach.  The counselor and behavior coach provide social and emotional support for students.  Through assessing behavior needs, implementing behavior plans, or just being available to talk with students they are an essential component to our special education program.