Teachers’ Institute — Aiming for Greatness

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INFORMATION: Employment First April 29 Webinar

The Arizona Employment First Strategic Planning Committee recorded a webinar on April 29, 2015, to provide an update on the work the Committee has been involved in over the past year. Members of the Planning Committee presented an overview of the draft Strategic Plan key directions developed from the input received from stakeholders who attended a series of Community Forums held across the state in 2014.

The webinar can be viewed by clicking on this link: https://cms.azed.gov/home/GetDocumentFile?id=55525217aadebe0f945914e3.

The PowerPoint has been saved as a PDF and can be downloaded here along with the draft of the Employment First Strategic Plan Book.

Meeting Indicator 13 Transition Requirements Using Interagency Collaboration for Students with Intellectual Disabilities

This is a co-presented session by the Arizona Department of Education, Exceptional Student Services and the Arizona Department of Economic Security, Division of Developmental Disabilities designed specifically for developing and implementing IEPs that include transition planning for students with intellectual disabilities. The session will include a review of the required transition components for Indicator 13 and examples of age-appropriate transition assessments, goals and activities specific to this population. There is a strong focus on career options for this population using interagency collaboration.

April 2, 2014
1:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Multi-Purpose Room
10251 N. 35th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85051

Register for this event here.

Visit the Secondary Transition page.

Please contact Jeannette Zemeida if you have questions about this program.

Surrogate Parent Training

Tuesday, March 4
9:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.


1:30 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Pima County Juvenile Court
Training Center
2225 E. Ajo Way
Tucson, AZ  85713

What is a surrogate parent and why does a student need one?

A surrogate parent represents the rights of a student who is currently receiving special education, or is being considered for special education eligibility, when no other adult is available or has the legal authority.

How many children does the program serve?

The surrogate parent program currently serves over 200 students across the State with new applications received every month. These students need adult volunteers to represent them as special education decisions are made.

How can I become a surrogate parent volunteer?

Volunteers must attend a workshop on the Surrogate Parent Program and complete a state and federal background clearance check. The workshop will teach volunteers about the special education process in Arizona. Volunteers must submit fingerprints to the Arizona Department of Public Safety and be issued a fingerprint clearance card in order to serve as a surrogate parent. Volunteers may be reimbursed up to $65 for the cost of the fingerprint clearance card.

Where can I get more information about the surrogate parent program?

Email:  surrogateparents@azed.gov
Telephone:  602-364-3984
Web:  www.azed.gov/special-education/special-projects/surrogate-parents/
Candice Trainor, Surrogate Parent Program Coordinator

To register for this training, please visit this link: http://goo.gl/9uLzGf

Surrogate Parent Volunteer Training flyer

PD OPPORTUNITY: Professional Learning and Sustainability (PLS) Webinars

The Professional Learning and Sustainability (PLS) unit will host three webinars for special education teachers, general education teachers, and school administrators in February and March. Please visit the links below to register for these free trainings.

Effective Utilization of Paraeducators

Paraeducators are becoming increasingly more important in today’s school settings. In this webinar, presenters will clarify paraeducators’ roles and responsibilities and address the role of certified teachers in providing direction and supervision of paraeducators. Further discussion will focus on ways to more appropriately utilize paraeducators. Tips and techniques to provide constructive feedback and job-embedded training to increase the effectiveness of paraeducators also will be presented.

Date: Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. MST
Event: click here for the webinar link

The Nuts and Bolts of Co-Teaching

What is co-teaching? Attend this webinar to learn the main elements of co-teaching, including the delivery options for implementing co-teaching. Further discussion points include the importance of co-planning and compatibility; administrative support; and professional development.

Date: Thursday, March 6, 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m.–4:30 p.m. MST

Event: click here for the webinar link

Mentoring New Special Education Teachers: Theory and Best Practices

During this webinar, participants will learn research and best practices for effective mentoring of special education teachers who are in their first or second year of practice. Local education agencies also will join this webinar to discuss their current mentoring programs.

Date: Thursday, March 27, 2014
Time: 3:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m. MST
Event: click here for the webinar link

Writing a Secondary IEP for Transition Using Best Practice Workshop

This training applies information from previous Secondary Transition training (s) conducted by our ADE/ESS transition specialists. The expectation is that participants attending this training come with a foundation of Indicator 13 knowledge. It is geared for those that are looking to evaluate their IEPs and increase the potential success of the transition plan, for individuals with disabilities, by answering four essential evaluative questions. You will receive clarification on the differences between interest, preferences, and strengths assessment information, how to approach the development of activities, as well as course work documentation related to the measurable postsecondary goals. After a quick review of Indicator 13 information, each IEP will be reviewed to answer the four essential evaluative questions that are designed to write better ‘transition plans’.

Each participant is required to bring a copy of an IEP, please do not rely on online connectivity for your IEP as this is not always available. The IEP must be FERPA compliant (redacted of student specific information).

Who Should Attend: Special Education staff responsible for writing IEP transition plans, staff responsible for reviewing IEPs, Special Education Directors, Schools Administrators, Schools Counselors, Speech Therapists, Occupational Therapists, and School Psychologists.

Contact: Jeannette Zemeida @ 602-542-3855

Ganado Unified School District
Admin Conf Room
Hwy 264
Ganado, AZ 86505
Oct 17, 2013 @ 1:00PM – 5:00PM Register
Cave Creek Professional Development
Black Mountain Baptist Church
33955 N. Cave Creek Rd.
Cave Creek, AZ 85331
Oct 30, 2013 @ 12:00PM – 3:00PM Register
MGRM Pinnacle Education, Inc.
3225 S. Hardy Dr.
Tempe, AZ 85282
Nov 1, 2013 @ 9:00AM – 11:30AM Register

Superintendent Letter Regarding Substitutes


State of Arizona Department of Education

Office of John Huppenthal

Superintendent of Public Instruction


October 24, 2013


RE: Use of Certified Substitute Teachers in the Special Education Setting 

Dear Special Education Stakeholder,

Recently it has come to my attention that substantial confusion has arisen in Arizona’s special education community regarding the use of teachers holding only an Arizona substitute certificate in a special education classroom.  This confusion has apparently arisen as a result of a broad interpretation of a Letter of Findings issued by the Arizona Department of Education (“ADE”) following the investigation of a complaint filed pursuant to the federal regulations that implement the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). There has been significant misinterpretation about what this Letter of Findings means for school districts and charter schools statewide. Be assured that letter does not constitute a sweeping statewide policy determination regarding the use of substitute teachers. Instead, ADE’s Letter of Findings is a confidential education record of its determination of whether a single school district complied with the written terms of a single student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP). ADE has not communicated with the field on this matter because ADE believes that its Letter of Findings is a confidential education record.

It is important to understand the role of ADE in the state complaint process, under which this particular issue was brought to the department’s attention. As part of the state’s general supervisory authority as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ADE is charged with investigating allegations that a public education agency has violated  a requirement of Part B of the Act and make an independent determination as to whether the school has or has not complied with IDEA. If noncompliance with IDEA is identified through the state complaint system, ADE is required to ensure that the noncompliance is corrected. In the complaint at issue, the school district was found in noncompliance and corrective action was ordered. Each complaint ADE receives is evaluated individually and a finding of noncompliance in one case does not guarantee the same finding in all similar cases.

I am aware that ADE’s Letter of Findings at issue has given rise to a significant debate regarding the appropriate use of substitute teachers. To address the concerns raised, ADE has been working with the State Board of Education to draft a proposed change to the Arizona Administrative Code. The State Board of Education will likely open a rulemaking for this in December with the goal of finalizing the rule change in January, 2014. ADE will invite stakeholders to provide feedback on the proposed rule change  by contacting ADE’s Legal Director, Carrie O’Brien at carrie.o’brien@azed.gov or (602)542-3378 when the draft rule is released for comment within the next ten days. It is our intent to end up in a place that is good for students and tenable for districts and charters. We look forward to your assistance and input.


John Huppenthal
Superintendent of Public Instruction


For a PDF version of this information, please click here.

2013 Transition Conference

Arizona’s Thirteenth Annual Transition Conference

“I”s Focused on the Future: Invested, Involved, and Independent

September 30—October 2, 2013

Talking Stick Resort
9800 East Indian Bend Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85256


Arizona’s Thirteenth Annual Transition Conference, “I”s Focused on the Future: Invested, Involved, and Independent, is a collaborative, cross-stakeholder professional development event aimed at providing meaningful and pertinent information needed in the transition planning process for youth and young adults with disabilities. This annual conference provides a dynamic array of national speakers, state level experts, and also includes participation of youth, young adults, and family members. Session content is structured around three topical strands: (1) strategies for enhancing youth success, (2) family involvement, and (3) interagency/community collaboration.

Registration for Arizona’s Thirteenth Annual Transition Conference is now closed.

Please note the following registration details:

  • Conference registration will be processed exclusively online for all participants (note: presenters, vendors, and Secondary Transition Mentoring Project (STMP) participants will register separately, NOT through the general registration sites, with instructions provided by conference organizers);
  • Early, standard, and late/walk-in registration periods significantly impact registration fees;
  • Family and youth/young adult-focused strands will only be held on Monday and Tuesday. Registration fees and scholarship funding allow participants who register as a family member,  youth, or young adult to attend the conference on September 30 and October 1, 2013. Additional information about scholarships will be disseminated soon;
  • Registration fees for educators, service agency providers, and other professionals allow participation in all three days of the conference;
  • Scholarships continue to be available on a first-come, first-served basis for youth, young adults, and family members needing assistance with lodging or registration costs. Scholarships are open to those who meet eligibility requirements and may be limited based on the number of applicants per family or on scholarship awards received in prior years; and
  • There will be no allowance for single-day registration, but substitutions can be made. See the Program Overview for information.

SPECIAL NOTES: The conference begins at 9:30 a.m. on Monday morning to accommodate participants traveling from out of town. Also, in order to be environmentally conscious, paper copies of handouts will not be provided at the conference. Materials for all sessions will be posted online three weeks prior to the conference on the 2013 Transition Conference website. Participants are asked to print and bring materials for sessions of interest.

ADE/ESS is pleased to welcome Brad Cohen as this year’s opening keynote speaker! Mr. Cohen is a noted motivational speaker, teacher, author who has Tourette syndrome. He has been featured on the Oprah Show, People magazine, CNN, The New York Times, and Inside Edition and is the author of Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me the Teacher I Never Had. CBS featured Mr. Cohen’s life in a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, Front of the Class, in December 2008. His story of personal challenge and unwavering determination proves that anyone can make a dream come true.  

Please see the 2013 Program Overview for information about conference and hotel room registration, as well as a listing of national speakers, outline of sessions provided by local presenters, and a general schedule. For additional information, contact Jeannette Zemeida at (602) 542-3855 or via e-mail at Jeannette.Zemeida@azed.gov.


Conference registration is closed.   Individuals who signed up for the wait list will be notified via e-mail beginning August 19th and no later than September 6th.

Scholarship, vendor/exhibitor, and additional information can be found on the 2013 Transition Conference website.


Back to Secondary Transition Page.

Back to ESS Calendar.

New ( & Veteran) Directors Professional Development – The C’s of Success: Communication, Collaboration and Cohesiveness

When:             September 27, 2013
8:00 am – 3:30pm

Phoenix Union High District
Metro Tech
1900 West Thomas Rd.
Phoenix, Arizona   85015


How: Mail this registration form by September 25th to

Kathleen Owen-Jones
4825 East Roosevelt Street
Phoenix, AZ 85008

or fax to  602-629-6815

Email registration to: KOwen-Jones@balsz.org

PBIS Training Opportunity

Multi-Tier Behavior Supports is a three-year training that will assist school teams with the development and implementation of a school-wide approach for positive behavior management practices. This training is based on School-Wide Positive Behavior Intervention and Support (SW-PBIS) evidence-based elements.

By registering, teams will be provided research-based, multi-tiered positive behavior supports for special education and general education students. Implementation of these supports will assist with the development of a school-wide approach for positive behavior management practices.

Cost: Year One–$600 per team member

Year Two–Grant Funded!

Year Three–Grant Funded!

 To register or to find out more information, please click on this link: http://www.ade.az.gov/onlineregistration/EventLocationSelection.asp?EventID=3109

Preference will be given to district teams. The six-person district team should consider including:

  • Special education director
  • Counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Behavior specialists

School teams may also apply. The school team would require representation from the following staff members:

  • Building administrator
  • General education teacher
  • Special education teacher
  • Specials teacher (library, computer, P.E., etc.)
  • District-level administrator
  • Building classified staff (office staff, custodian, etc.)

Registration Deadline:  August 31, 2013

For more information about this training opportunity, please contact Celeste.Nameth@azed.gov or 602-542-5445.

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