Contact Us

Dennis Rastatter

Executive Director, Special Ed
Executive Director, Special Ed

Terry Freeman

Administrative Assistant, Ii
Administrative Assistant, Ii

Special Education

special education program group smiling

In BVSD we are dedicated to supporting every student so they ultimately become successful adults, who are engaged in our community. We begin with differentiating instruction for every student and then work with students and parents to provide additional accommodations, modifications and services for those who need it.

boy in wheelchair exiting a school bus

Learn more about your child's education and help to advocate for their needs in BVSD's Special Education Advisory Committee. 

Read More about SEAC
child using a tablet to learn

Federal law defines “assistive technology” as “...any item, piece of equipment or product system, whether acquired commercially off the shelf, modified, or customized, that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of children with disabilities.”  

Read More about Assistive Technology


Where to Start

Special education services and supports are provided to students who cannot access their Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) because of the impact of their identified disability.  All students are general education students first. Special education provides supports and services so that students can access the general education curriculum.  The federal law that regulates this is called The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) which was reauthorized in 2004. It ensures that children with disabilities have available to them a free appropriate public education with special education and related services designed to meet their particular needs. 

Elementary / Secondary
   * Parent registers child at BVSD Admissions.
   * Parent contacts home school.
   * School principal notifies special services staff who schedules an IEP meeting.
   * An IEP meeting held at home school with other district staff in attendance as determined.
   * Information is gathered about child's needs in these areas: Social, Academies, Sensory motor, Cognitive, Behavior, Health, Self Care Areas. Any further assessments needed are scheduled or requested from  providers/agencies.
    * Placement is finalized and discussed with parents through the IEP process. A start date is agreed upon.
    * As needed, transportation department is notified of recommended start date. Parent is notified of pick- up/drop-off times, if applicable. 
Early Childhood
    * Parent contacts CHILD FIND at 720-561-5078
  * CHILD FIND staff will gather information and work with the parents to develop an appropriate placement plan.  


Resources By Age Group

BVSD Programs (Continuum of Services)

Boulder Valley School District is committed to creating inclusive school settings for all students. It is expected in most instances that a student with disabilities can be educated in the school he/she would attend if not disabled, and in a general education classroom at least part of the day, with appropriate modifications and accommodations. When it is determined that a student’s needs cannot be met in his/her home school and a more restrictive environment is necessary, BVSD does have a continuum of services to meet those significant needs.

Program Locations


Our Services

Intensive Learning Center for Students who are Deaf or Hard of Hearing 

Intensive Learning Center for Students with Autism

Intensive Learning Center for Students w/ Multiple Needs (“Multi ILC”)

Intensive Learning Center for Students w/ Affective Needs

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions
1)   My child has a diagnosis from a private provider.  Doesn't that mean he/she should have an IEP?

A diagnosis of any disability does not automatically mean the student requires an IEP to access their public education.  The process is designed to be individualized so we need to determine if the impact of the disability is educationally substantial enough to qualify.  BVSD aligns with the Colorado Department of Education criteria for different disability categories. 
2)  The school wants to develop a behavior plan for my child.  What is that?

Any student with a disability that has behaviors that adversely impact their access to education may have a Behavior Support Plan to address the identified behaviors.  The Behavior Plan is created after conducting a Functional Behavior Analysis (FBA).  The goal is to better understand the student's behavior to help them have better access to school, increase their ability to self-regulate and to be sure the adults working with the students are supporting positive behaviors. 
3)  My child keeps getting suspended.  Can they do that for a child with an IEP?

Yes.  Any student can be suspended.  A student with and IEP can be suspended for up to 10 days in a school year and the district does not have to provide IEP services while they are suspended.  At or before 10 days, we hold a manifestation meeting to determine if the reasons for suspension are related to the identified disability.  At that meeting, the team may make changes to the IEP, the behavior plan and/or the student's school setting.  Students cannot be expelled if the behaviors leading to suspension(s) are a manifestation of the disability. 
4)  My child would benefit from being in a private school, how do I get the district to place him/her there?

Parents have the right to enroll their child in any private school or to homeschool under Colorado education laws.  The district is not responsible for paying for a private school that parents made the choice to attend.  There are times when BVSD does place students at private schools but only after a thorough, documented attempt to provide FAPE (Free and Appropriate Public Education) at a BVSD school.  If the district places a student at a private school, they pay the tuition.
5)  What is the best school for my child with a disability in BVSD?

BVSD is an open enrollment district.  This means that parents can apply for our annual lottery to have their student attend a BVSD school outside of their home school.  All BVSD schools have at least a "resource" level of special education supports and staff.  We also have Intensive Learning Centers (ILCs) at some schools which are a more restrictive education setting that requires an IEP team to recommend.  There is no best school.  What is best for your child is a family decision based on where you live, your family values and family priorities along with the open enrollment lottery system. 
6)  I want to change my child's school--how do I do that?

Besides the Open Enrollment (OE) system, parents can also request an Administrative Transfer (AT).  An AT is not a way to bypass the OE system.  The request can be made at any time.  The school principal has to have room at the grade-level and be able to provide the IEP services.  Our charter and focus schools usually do not accept AT requests.  The superintendent's office makes the final decision. 
7)  What do I do if I think the IEP is not being followed?
Parents have the right to request an IEP meeting or a parent-teacher meeting at any time if they have concerns or want to share new information about their child.  Parents should also be receiving regular progress reports (given at the same time as report cards) detailing the progress the student is making on their IEP goals.  Parents should contact the teacher and if needed, the school principal to share their concerns and request evidence of progress. 
8)  What is the difference between an accommodation and a modification?
An accommodation is something that changes HOW a student does assignments or assessments such as having more time, using fidgets, having a test read to them, using a computer, etc.  The expectations for mastering the content are the same as for students without an IEP.  Accommodations can be provided through a 504 plan or as part of an IEP. 
A modification is a change in WHAT the student is doing.  It could be a simpler version of a test or using text that is at their skill level and not grade level.  Modifications are usually only provided to students who have intellectual or developmental disabilities that prevent them from being ready for grade-level work.
9)  My child is in 8th grade and the school wants to complete a transition plan.  What is that?
Transition goals are part of the IEP and need to be addressed before the child turn's 15 or the end of the 9th grade year.  Through interest inventories, parent input and student input, the IEP team determines goals needed in three areas:  post-secondary education/training, employment skills and independent living skills.  Students may have goals in 2-3 areas.  The goals help direct the high school course of study so that the student is well on their way to meeting their goals when they graduate or age-out of BVSD services. 
10)  Can students with IEPs go to the Career and Technical Education Center?
Yes, student with IEPs can attend a vocational training program at our CTEC program on Arapahoe Campus.  Students are required to have passed high school algebra and high school freshman language arts with a C or better.  Student accommodations will be met at CTEC but modifications are not.  Students who are ready for a 20-40 hour per week job can also access our School to Work Alliance Program (SWAP) for employment support. 

Autism Supports and Resources

Boulder Valley School District, programs designed to meet the educational needs of children with autism provide a structured teaching approach to learning. As with any student qualifying for special education services, the Individual Education Plan (IEP) will direct the program. Long term goals for our students with autism include the development of functional skills, communication and independence. Special attention is paid to skills in the following domains: communication, social, academic, daily living, independence, sensory motor, and vocational.
Services are provided in a continuum of environments ranging from self-contained to full inclusion settings, based upon the needs of each student. Intensive early intervention is a priority. Programming for preschool age children reflects the research regarding the need for intensity at this age. School staff and parents combine efforts to deliver increased hours of service consistent with recommended practices.
Continued staff development is necessary to provide staff with the skills needed to provide quality programming for children with autism. BVSD will continue to examine all in-service opportunities that focus on autism and keep staff trained in methodologies and/or strategies found successful for children with autism.
Intensive Learning Center for Students with Autism (“Autism ILC”) Program Description
Students referred to Autism ILCs typically have a medical diagnosis or educational identification of Autism and require intensive curricular and/or behavioral modifications that cannot be met by resource support alone.  Students may require a variety of instructional approaches and accommodations, including (but not limited to) discrete trial, incidental teaching, use of social stories, and sensory strategies. Students may require significant modifications to the general curriculum. Teachers in Autism ILCs have expertise in working with students on the autism spectrum.  Additional speech-language and occupational therapy time is allocated to support these students. Each program is supported by a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA).
The BCBA provides specialized expertise to define and characterize behaviors, measure and assess behaviors, select and evaluate interventions and strategies, display and interpret behavioral data and monitor behavior change.  The Behavior Analyst is responsible for the implementation of skill acquisition and behavior support strategies aligned with current best practices from the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) as well as responsibilities and duties within the school special education collaborative team.  A BCBA is assigned to each district Intensive Learning Center Autism classroom to provide program support, integrated professional development and participate in development of functional behavior analysis and related behavior support plans. There are also BCBA positions assigned to provide support to schools that have students with autism who are not receiving special education services in a district autism classroom.
The Boulder Valley School District Autism Assessment Team is a group of professionals, employed by the school district, who have special training and expertise in assessments and interests for children with autism. The team acts as an internal consultant to special education teams within the district. The team provides a range of services to home school staff, including assessment of children suspected of having an autism-spectrum disorder, development of teaching plans to meet the child's IEP goals and objectives, and collaborative problem solving of difficult behavioral and instructional issues.
Members of the Autism Assessment Team:
     * Michelle Brenner, Director of Special Education for Instructional Development and                     Northwest Network
    * Jill Cox, Occupational Therapist
    * Dawn Collamer, Special Education Teacher, BCBA
    * Kelly Miller, Social Worker, BCBA
    * Francine Alberts, Speech/Language Pathologist

Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHOH)

The DHoH center program is located at Monarch preK-8 and Monarch High School. Students who access the center program are those identified with a Deaf Hard of Hearing primary special education eligibility that need a sign language interpreter and/or students who need 3 or more hours of direct services a week from the Teacher of the Deaf ToD (1.5 for pre-K or Kindergarten level students). Students who access the center program also include those who have equipment needs that cannot be accessed by the student without on-site support from someone specialized in that equipment on a daily basis. It also includes those students who have Communication Plans which indicate the need for DHoH peer models as part of the student’s identity, above and beyond specific events or activities.  Services provided by the center program could include co-taught classes, pull out small group or 1:1 services, collaborative design for direct and indirect services provided by an onsite Teacher of the Deaf. Services can also include support of a sign language interpreter or closed captioning for access. The center-based program values current research and considers best practice in providing both academic and social/emotional services for students. Students who access the center program may have other special needs in addition to those related to hearing. An IEP team would meet to determine if all of a student’s needs can be met at the center program school when multiple special needs are identified. 


Request for Adult Interpreting Services to access BVSD activities and events

Colorado Hands and Voices


Related Services

Children with disabilities often need additional support and services to help them succeed in the classroom. Some students with disabilities only require specialized instruction by a teacher to adapt the curriculum to that child’s needs. Other times, students receive specific related services to support classroom instruction.
At BVSD, we offer a variety of such supportive services, which are determined to be necessary by a student’s IEP team. 
Many BVSD students receive therapy outside of school. Parents are welcome to submit reports and recommendations from outside service providers.  It can be helpful for the IEP team to discuss the information. BVSD is not required, however, to implement the recommendations from any outside report, since changes to the IEP always should be a team decision that takes into account all available information regarding the student, not just the findings of one specific data source.
Therapeutic services provided in the educational setting according to an IEP must be directed toward the achievement of functional tasks required for children to participate and benefit from their education. Therapy provided in a medical setting, such as at a hospital or clinic, tends to focus on specific goals that may not relate directly to educational performance.
BVSD service providers work closely with teachers, school staff, parents and community providers who work with students outside of school. Below are the most common related services at BVSD schools:
The Audiologist provides a wide array of services throughout the district to assist in identifying and serving students who may have hearing impairments as well as assisting facilities with the correct installation and maintenance of classroom acoustic devises and/or FM systems. They may provide in-service training related to hearing impairments and their implication to school personnel, children, and parents. They also work to ensure the proper fit and functioning of hearing aids and other auditory devices, including the calibration of audiometric equipment. 
Audiology Assistant 
The Audiology Assistant works under the supervision of the Audiologists and assists in carrying out district-wide school hearing screenings, assists with sound booth evaluations, and provides clerical support in maintaining audiological records. 
Registered Occupational Therapist (OTR) 
The Occupational Therapist (OTR) is a "related service" provider who supports the student's access to specialized instruction and the general curriculum. Occupational therapists work with students when motor skills interfere with their ability to participate in school and classroom activities when the area of need is not due to lack of instruction. OTRs help students improve specific skills and adapt to classroom demands. Specifically, the OT is concerned with a student's ability to perform in three areas: (1) work productivity within school environments, (2) self-care and (3) play/leisure. An OTR can help a student who has difficulty performing in any of these areas by analyzing and breaking down tasks, developing a new way of doing the task, adapting or modifying the task or environment, and/or practicing elements of the skill with the student. Occupational therapy is provided with a fluid combination of direct and/or indirect service. Direct service may be integrated into a large instructional setting (e.g. classroom, cafeteria, playground, gym), or provided within a smaller instructional environment. Indirect service/consultation may include monitoring student progress and/or recommending accommodations and modifications for targeted students. Occupational therapists work together with school staff and families to identify ways to change, adapt, modify, and use the school environment to optimize overall student performance. OTRs are required to have a valid national registration through NBCOT, a valid state registration through DORA, as well as a Special Services license through CDE. 
Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant (COTA) 
A certified occupational therapy assistant (COTA) provides direct therapy to students while under the supervision of a registered Occupational Therapist. A COTA may assist with screenings and assessments, follow intervention plans, document student performance, assist with clerical duties, and perform maintenance on equipment. A COTA must have an associate's degree from an accredited program and have passed the certification test through NBCOT (National Board of Certified Occupational Therapists). 
Physical Therapist (PT) 
The Physical Therapist (PT) is a "related service" provider who supports the student's access to specialized instruction and the general curriculum. A PT works collaboratively with the IEP team in screening, evaluating, educating staff and families, program planning and intervention. PTs assist in the development of skills to increase the functional independence of the student within the educational environment. PTs may provide direct or indirect services to assist in addressing those issues that significantly limit a student's movement within the school environment or their ability to perform functional activities throughout their school day. PTs are required to have a valid Colorado state license, as well as a Special Services license through CDE. 
School Psychologists and School Social Workers
The BVSD School Psychologists and School Social Workers are a professional group in the district who have extensively worked with both the social-emotional and cognitive aspects of student achievement, and bring a unique skill set to the school environment. School Psychologists and School Social Workers provide integral support to student achievement, emotional/behavioral development, and establish a collaborative culture in buildings. School Psychologists/Social Workers provide essential services to individual students, staff, groups and families within the school, as well as support district-wide initiatives. The following are possible roles that the School Psychologist/School Social Worker may fulfill in their respective schools, contingent upon their allocation and available time at the site:

  • Academic/Behavior Support and Intervention
  • RtI Support
  • Assessment
  • Counseling
  • Consultation
  • Staff Development
  • Crisis Prevention
  • Systems of Care

Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP)
The Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) provides specialized instruction and consultation to students who require support in communication. An SLP may serve as the student's Case Manager if they are the primary provider of special education services. if the primary disability of the student is Speech-Language Impairment. An SLP must have the appropriate Special Services license through CDE.
Speech-Language Pathology Assistant (SLP-A) 
Speech-Language Pathology Assistants (SLP-A) do not have their own caseload. Rather, they assist the licensed SLP in managing an existing caseload. Under the supervision of an SLP, an SLP-A may: assist with screenings and assessments, follow intervention plans, document student performance, assist with clerical duties, and perform maintenance on equipment. CDE has published Fast Facts that further delineate the roles and responsibilities of an SLP-A.  An SLP-A must have the appropriate background coursework to obtain an SLP-A authorization through CDE.

Meet Our Team

Special Education Team

Dennis Rastatter

Dennis Rastatter

Executive Director, Special Ed
Michelle Brenner

Michelle Brenner

Director, Special Education Instructional Development & Ne
Joy Larson

Joy Larson

Director, Special Education Southwest
Scott Sparks

Scott Sparks

Director, Special Education East
Matthew Dudek

Matthew Dudek

Director, Sped Affective Needs

Kitty Mulkey

Early Childhood Coordinator (Child Find) Se

Lily Akotaobi

Office Assistant Iv

Victoria Boysen

Administrative Assistant

Terry Freeman

Administrative Assistant, Ii

Marlene Gould

Specialist,Data & Prog Service

Margarita Nava

Office Assistant Iii

Ellie Sabourin

Office Assistant Iii,12mo,4173

Anna Stewart

Parent Liaison