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Exceptional Student Services

Welcome to the Exceptional Student Services Department (ESS).  We are dedicated to developing, supporting and implementing exceptional programs for all areas of need from early childhood through adulthood.  We collaborate with parents, students, teachers and staff to encourage and increase student success.  Working together ensures a positive outcome for all students. 

What to Do if You Have Academic Concerns

Everyone learns differently, and with 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 is 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.

Special Education is defined by 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

Special Education Services

  • 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 (Developmental Preschool DPS)

Destruction of Records

Special Education records are destroyed four (4) years after a student has withdrawn, transferred, graduated or been exited from special education services at Cave Creek Unified School District.  This year, we will be destroying the records of students who left the district or exited services in the 2019-2020 school year.  If you are a parent or student and need a copy of your student’s special education records for any reason, e.g., social security benefits, please contact Amy Killion in the Special Education department at  (480) 575-2013 or email

Michael Karpinski
Director of Exceptional Student Services

Keri Gregory 
Assistant Director of Exceptional Student Services

AnnMarie Callahan
Secondary Coordinator
Academy of Excellence (AOE)

Amy Killion
Program Assistant