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Special Education

The primary mission of the Cortez School District Department of Special Education is to provide appropriate special education programming and services for all students with educational disabilities and to promote programming that will accomplish the successful transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, independent living, and community participation.

The department works to prepare our students for positive outcomes by ensuring inclusion and equity for students in our educational communities through ongoing multi-disciplinary collaboration and decision-making, intentional and individualized service provision and monitoring, and alignment with family and community partnerships. 

Referrals and information come through the special education team at a student’s home school. Please contact your school’s special education teacher or school psychologist, or Special Education Director Adria Bogle at 970-247-3261, for further information on special education referrals and the evaluation process in the Montezuma-Cortez School District.

For more information on parental and child rights in special education as well as the eligibility criteria used by the Montezuma-Cortez School District, please visit the following Colorado Department of Education website: 


The Montezuma-Cortez School District is part of the San Juan Board of Cooperative Educational Services (SJBOCES).

SJBOCES works with eight school districts in southwest Colorado — Archuleta (Pagosa Springs), Bayfield, Dolores, Dolores County (Dove Creek), Ignacio, Mancos, Montezuma-Cortez, and Silverton — to provide specialized educational services for all students.

SJBOCES employs more than 90 professionals in such fields as audiology, speech therapy, physical and occupational therapy, assistive technology, psychology, social work, and other disciplines.

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Levels of intervention and educational support

Schools are required to show that all students receive a core curriculum that research has demonstrated to be effective for the majority of students. When that curriculum does not meet a specific student’s needs (either because the student is having difficulty learning, or because s/he already knows a concept), teachers are required to change their instruction address each student’s needs or with small groups of students.

Teachers will closely monitor student progress resulting from these educational changes to be sure that the changes are effective for each student. Teachers will share those results with the student’s parents/guardians regularly. The results again will be used to determine whether a strategy or intervention needs to be changed to better support student learning.

The RTI process is often represented as a circle: teach, assess, intervene; teach, assess, intervene. As students’ learning challenges become more serious, teachers provide students with more intensive instruction and support. Individual students may receive supports from more than one tier at the same time. For example, a student may receive education within Tier 1 (core or general education) for reading, social studies, or science, and receive Tier 3 supports for math. The tiers indicate the intensity of interventions rather than a classification or label for an individual student.

Tiered supports within an RtI process are available for all areas of instruction, including academics, behavior/emotional development, and advanced learning.

TIER 1 – Continuum of interventions available to all students

Initially, schools check for overall academic and behavioral achievement through regularly administered universal screening, district, and state assessments. We use these assessment results to identify those students who need more or different opportunities to address either an area of weakness or an area of exceptional strength.

Differentiated instruction and various evidence-based teaching strategies are used in the general education classroom to address differences in student learning and student needs. Staff monitor each student’s response to these educational changes to make sure the strategies are working.


The READ Act requires schools to develop a READ Plan for students as soon as the “body of evidence” from a variety of assessments indicates that students are not reading at grade level. The READ plan identifies specific strategies to address a student’s reading deficits. Any student who reads below grade level may be placed on a READ Plan. An important component of the READ Plan requires parents to read or practice reading with their students at home.

Student Study Team

The Student Study Team may be used any time a student has a problem that interferes with learning. The team may include the student’s teachers, school administrator, counselor, school psychologist, nurse, and parents. The team reviews available data from the classroom, school records, and previous interventions and makes further recommendations in the area of concern.


Some students have needs that are too great to be addressed effectively through differentiation and “whole classroom’ strategies. For these students, teachers and other staff work together to select targeted interventions that are put in place within general education. Student progress is monitored to be sure that the intervention is working.

Tier 2 interventions may include, in addition to general education teachers, other staff such as reading specialists, Title I teachers, counselors, paraprofessionals, etc. Some examples of Tier 2 interventions are:

  • Additional tutoring with a parent or community volunteer, before, during, and after school

  • Small-group instruction with a reading or math specialist

  • Participation in supplementary reading or math program or class

Students who respond well to the Tier 2 intervention and again are learning at levels similar to their grade-level peers and consistent with state standards will no longer need the intervention. These students will return to instruction through the core general education curriculum.

Students who are responding adequately to the intervention but are not yet back at expected levels will continue with the intervention. Again, progress is monitored frequently and interventions are adjusted or changed based upon how the student responds to the intervention.

A few students will not show the growth expected as a result of the evidence-based intervention, and at this point the Student Study Team again reviews the data and may determine that an additional Tier 2 intervention should be used, or they may determine that a more intensive intervention is indicated.


Students who need even more individualized support move to Tier 3 interventions. At this point, it is likely that a “problem-analysis” meeting will be held with school staff, parents and the student (as appropriate). The problem-analysis meeting will identify the cause(s) of the academic or behavioral difficulty, so that a more appropriate and effective individualized intervention can be used.

Interventions put in place at Tier 3 are typically more intense and show stronger evidence of their effectiveness with students who are struggling. They may be implemented more frequently, in smaller groups and for longer periods of time during the school day.

Students who respond well to a Tier 3 intervention may move back to Tier 2, and then to Tier 1 core curriculum. Other students will show a need for ongoing intensive and individualized interventions, and will continue receiving Tier 3 supports. At this point, a team (including parents) may recommend a referral for consideration for eligibility for Special Education and/or Gifted Education services within Tier 3

Evaluation for consideration for Special Education

If your child is referred for special education, the district will obtain parent permission for the evaluation. After you’ve signed the Permission for Initial Evaluation, we must determine a special education eligibility within 60 calendar days.

We will use a variety of assessment tools, strategies, interviews, and observations to gather relevant functional, developmental, and academic information about your student.

We will notify you in writing, in advance about your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. We will make every effort to ensure that you understand IEP proceedings. We can provide an interpreter for parents with hearing loss or whose native language is other than English.

What is an IEP?

An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is a written summary that defines activities and goals to meet the student’s educational needs. It is a collaborative effort to create the best instructional program for the student who has an identified disability. It identifies the educational supports that a student needs to ensure his or her educational success. IEPs are reviewed and updated annually.

What to Expect at the IEP Meeting

When the evaluation is completed, the special education team will meet with you and your student to share the evaluation results and any other pertinent information. The team includes the parent/guardian; the regular classroom teacher; special education teacher; school psychologist, and possibly the district nurse. The team also may include additional specialists as appropriate. This team will review and discuss the child’s present level of academic achievement and functional performance, including educational strengths and needs. The group will identify specifically designed instruction and accommodations, if necessary, for your student to participate in the general curriculum and/or appropriate activities. The team also identify accommodations, if needed, for district assessments and CSAP test administration. 

The IEP team will make a determination of disability. If the team determines that the child has a disability, it will develop measurable annual goals and a plan to enable the child to successfully meet those goals. If the team determines that the student does not have a disability, it will identify regular education programming to ensure the student’s educational success.

In either case, parents will receive a final copy of the child’s IEP, and the IEP team will provide key school personnel with individually tailored recommendations to serve the student.

504 Coordinator
Robbin Lewis
400 N. Elm St.
Cortez, CO 81321
(970) 565-7282 ext. 1127

The first five years of your child's development are crucial. The Child Find Team at San Juan BOCES is available to provide FREE screenings and evaluations for children birth to 5 years of age who are suspected of having a developmental delay or disability. These screenings can answer many questions about your child's development, and are intended to identify children who may need extra support. 

The Child Find Team includes: The Child Find Team includes early childhood special educators, occupational therapists, physical therapists speech/language pathologists, school psychologists, and school social workers.


How do I decide if my child should be seen? 
Child Find provides developmental assessments for young children (birth through 5 years of age) for whom there may be a question of a developmental delay. 

Do you have concerns about:

  • How your child’s speech is developing?
  • How your child is learning?
  • How your child sees or hears?
  • How your child plays/interacts with other children?
  • How your child moves his/her body and/or uses his/her hands for daily tasks?
  • How your child reacts to difficult situations or transitions?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above questions, you can call to request a FREE screening or additional information from the Child Find Coordinator.

How much does a Child Find assessment cost? 
Child Find is a FREE service to the public and is funded by your tax dollars.

How do I contact Child Find? 
If your child is birth to 3 years of age, contact Community Connections at (970) 565-8389.

Community Connections supports kids and families in Montezuma, Dolores, La Plata, Archuleta and San Juan counties through Early Intervention programs: San Juan Kids and Southwest Kids; and through a Family Support Services Program.  Community Connections holds evaluations and children receive an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP), with services generally received in the home setting.

If your child is 3 to 5 years of age, contact San Juan BOCES Child Find at (970) 247-3261, Ext 146. 
Eligible children receive an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and most children receive their services within a preschool setting with their same age peers.

If your child is 5 to 21 years of age, contact your neighborhood school. 
Many families speak with their child's teacher first.

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Lisa Megel

Executive Director of Exceptional Student Services

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