Exceptional Education Department

About Us

Dr. Sabrina Salmon
Senior Director

We oversee the education of about 7,000 students with disabilities to ensure that they have access to a free appropriate public education.

Our staff work with general education staff and administrators to create programs and plans for the success of all students who are eligible for special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal law governing special education.  

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When a parentally-placed private school or homeschooled student is determined eligible for special education and the parent wants to take advantage of the TUSD proportionate share program, an Individual Service Plan (ISP) is created within 30 days of the eligibility determination meeting. Students eligible for special education services who receive Arizona ESA funding can also receive proportionate share services.

Every fall TUSD invites private schools within our boundaries to a proportionate share meeting. Parents of homeschooled students within TUSD boundaries are also welcome. The purpose of this meeting is for TUSD to hear ideas and suggestions about how to allocate our proportionate share dollars. TUSD considers the input and decides which area or areas of service that the district will make available to eligible private school students or homeschooled students within TUSD boundaries. 

On September 13, 2023 TUSD held the annual Proportionate Share meeting via Zoom. Participants made several suggestions for expanding the array of proportionate share services, and the suggestions were considered and approved by TUSD administration. Based on the student's needs and team recommendations, funding can support items such as: 

  • Specially designed instruction in math, reading, writing
  • Speech services
  • Consultation for behavior management
  • Consultation for 504 plans
  • Consultation on special education law
  • Participation in selected district professional development in-service training for private school teachers
  • Instructional material support for reading, writing, math, and speech services
  • Assistive technology (AT)
Parents of homeschooled students eligible for special education can contact an Administrative Assistant in the Ex Ed office to be added to the Proportionate Share mailing list or to get more information about this service option.
TUSD has a School Choice Program that includes the TUSD Magnet school program and Open Enrollment. Open Enrollment is an available option for all students, even Exceptional Education students who have IEPs, but there are some limitations.

Many TUSD schools are greenlight schools, meaning that there is no application process or lottery system. Exceptional Education students who have IEPs that indicate service code/level A or B can open enroll at any TUSD greenlight school provided there is capacity at that campus. Capacity is determined annually and is based on the number of seats available and whether that greenlight school has the required number of teachers qualified to provide the necessary and required instruction and services.

Students whose IEPs call for service code/level C need self-contained classrooms, but not all TUSD schools have self-contained classrooms in all program areas (specialty classrooms in autism, emotional disability, cross-categorical special education). When a C code student wishes to open enroll, the district reviews the IEP to determine which campus has an appropriate self-contained classroom, whether that classroom has an available slot, and whether the campus has the required number of teachers qualified to provide the necessary and required instruction and services.

Service code/level D students need a separate day school or private residential facility. TUSD does not accept students with service code/level D for open enrollment.