Special Education and English Language Learners

Welcome to Student Services.

Sahuarita Unified School District and the Student Services Department are committed to providing quality instructional support programs and services to students and their families.

Student Services staff members consist of the following staff members:

  • special education teachers,
  • school psychologists,
  • behavior specialist,
  • school-based speech pathologists,
  • school-based occupational therapists,
  • school-based physical therapists,
  • transition specialist,
  • paraprofessionals,
  • SEI classroom teachers for ELL students,
  • the Student Services Director and Assistant Director,
  • Student Services Program Specialist
  • and Student Services Assistants.

The Student Services Department works collaboratively as a team with other district personnel, general education teachers, administrators, and parents to provide academic and behavioral services designed to support students in accessing their instructional programming meaningfully and appropriately.


Jessica Banhie
Director of Student Services
520.625.3502 x1020
[email protected] 

Marilyn Tindall
Student Services Assistant
520.625.3502 x1032
[email protected]

Student Services Assistant
520.625.3502 x1070

Bethany Patterson
Assistant Director of Student Services
520.625.3502 x1016
[email protected]

Alexis Vizcarra
Student Services Program Specialist
520.625.3502 x1011
[email protected]

Maria Valencia 
Student Services Assistant
520.625.3502 x1040
[email protected]


Please submit Special Education student records requests by fax to 520.625.5380, or email your request to Joyce Blalock at [email protected].

Student records requests may also be submitted through e-IEPPRO.

Student Services

What Is Child Find?

Child find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA ’04) that requires states to locate, identify, and evaluate all children with disabilities, ages birth through 21 years, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. This includes children who are highly mobile, such as migrant or homeless children, children suspected of having a disability even though they are advancing from grade to grade, private school students, and homeschool students. The Arizona initiative for child find is referred to as AZ FIND.

Developmental and Educational Services for Children Ages Birth through 21 Years

Some children have more difficulty learning than others. They may have trouble achieving milestones in one or more of the following developmental or academic areas:

  • Vision and Hearing
  • Motor Control or Coordination
  • Behavior or Social Skills
  • Speech or Communication Skills
  • Cognitive or Academic Skills

A referral for early intervention or special education services can come from a parent, guardian, foster parent, family member, teacher, counselor, or student who finds learning difficult. The earlier you express your concerns, the sooner your child’s needs will be identified and the sooner he or she will receive the help needed to succeed.

Help for Infants and Toddlers

Children ages birth to 2 years 10.5 months are screened through the Arizona Early Intervention Program (AzEIP) to determine if early intervention services are needed. Early intervention brings professionals, working in partnership with parents and families of children with special needs, together to support infants’ or toddlers’ growth, development, and learning. If you have questions about your child’s development, an AzEIP specialist will talk with you about your concerns and observe your child. If your child is found eligible, a plan will be designed to include strategies, activities, and supports to achieve desired outcomes related to your child’s needs. Make an online referral at www.azdes.gov/azeip. For more information, call (602) 532-9960.

Help for Preschool and School-Aged Children

Sahuarita Unified School District screens children ages 2 years 10.5 months through 21 years. SUSD schools use an informal screening process to check your child’s development and academic progress.

  • Screening must be completed within 45 calendar days of the date you notify the school of your concerns.
  • When a concern is identified through screening procedures, you must be notified within 10 school days and informed of procedures to follow up on your child’s needs. For example:
    • Your child may be referred to the school’s child study team for pre-intervention services; or,
    • If screening results indicate your child may have a disability, a comprehensive evaluation may be necessary to determine eligibility for special education and related services. A team (including parent/guardian) will meet to begin the process. Screening and evaluation are free. All information contained in the screening or evaluation is confidential.

What should I look for?

Children who are showing needs in any of the following areas may have a learning difficulty:

  • speaking/understanding
  • vision
  • hearing
  • walking/running
  • self-help skills
  • behavior/social skills
  • manipulating small objects/drawing
  • cognitions/academics

Who should I contact?

For preschool-aged students (2 years 10.5 months through 5 years), please contact the Early Childhood Center Child Find office at 520-625-3502 x1929

For school-aged children (5 years through 21 years) contact their school of attendance or the Student Services office at 520-625-3502 x1011 or 1020.

More information for families: English | Spanish
Sahuarita district identifies, locates, and evaluates students who are in need of special education and related services. Referrals for evaluations are conducted by a multidisciplinary evaluation team, including the parent. Evaluations of children with suspected disabilities are completed within 60 calendar days after obtaining written consent from the parent/guardian. At the conclusion of the evaluation process, the MET team, including the parent, meets and determines if the student is identified as having a disability and in need of special education and related services. Please refer to the Special Education Process Flowchart for Screening and evaluation.

For eligible students, an individualized education plan (IEP) is developed by the IEP team, including the parent. Specific needs and services are outlined in the IEP. Related services such as OT, PT, Speech, etc. are also considered for each student. Consent for initial placement is obtained from the parent/guardian prior to a student receiving special education and related services. IEP’s are reviewed at least once a year and more frequently if circumstances warrant consideration be given to discussion and possible changes to the IEP.
The District’s program for preschool special education students is an inclusion program where students are integrated with typical preschool peers in the general preschool setting. Some children may require specific and direct individual services in a separate location away from peers as outlined in an Individual Education Plan.

Preschool-aged children referred to the school district participate in a Screening process that quickly probes all developmental areas of a child’s development in an attempt to identify those children that may need special education to be successful in school. Screening procedures include vision & hearing, cognitive or academic, communication, motor, social or behavioral, and adaptive development. Children who fail the screening in any area are referred to the Multidisciplinary evaluation team to begin the evaluation process. Please refer to the Special Education Process Flowchart for the Screening and evaluation of preschool children.
The SUSD #30 program for English learner (EL) students is based on Arizona’s new Language Development Approach model.  This approach is grounded in the understanding that EL students are valuable members of our education community, and all individuals at every level within an educational system have an active role in ensuring the success and achievement of our multilingual learners.  The EL approach is guided by four principles:  1) asset-based behaviors and expectations; 2) integrated instruction in disciplinary language and content; 3) targeted and explicit language instruction, and 4) assessment, monitoring, and feedback.  The overarching goal is for EL students to develop a sense of agency, confidence, and determination as they learn language and content.

English language teachers utilize Arizona’s new English Language Proficiency Standards to guide instruction.   These standards are grouped into 4 main areas:  1) Receptive Communication (listening & reading); 2) Productive Communication (speaking & writing); 3) Interactive Communication (listening, speaking, reading & writing); and 4) Language (vocabulary/grammar).  In addition, the new standards are supplemented by Reading Foundational Standards which include Phonological Awareness, Print Concepts, Phonics & Word Recognition, and Fluency.

General education teachers use integrated instruction in disciplinary language and content to support EL students.  This is accomplished by using content standards to plan instruction along with the English Language Proficiency Standards to support differentiation by language proficiency level.  Through the use of scaffolded supports, academic language development, and collaborative discussions, reading, and writing, educators help students develop disciplinary content knowledge, language, and autonomy.  

Through effective targeted and integrated instruction, EL students will develop a sense of voice, confidence, and self-determination as they use content and language in tandem to meet their goals.
ASL Interpreting services are provided to deaf parents of children enrolled in the district. Sahuarita district contracts services with an outside agency to provide interpreting services. A request for an ASL Interpreter is to be made by the parent who is requesting the service.

When submitting a request, the following information is required:
  • Who (the requester),
  • What (IEP meeting, parent conference, etc.),
  • When (date and time, including the amount of time needed), and
  • Where ( the location of the meeting, conference, or event).

Parents should submit their request to Joyce Blalock in the Student Services office by e-mail:[email protected]. A parent who does not have access to e-mail may contact the Student Services office at (520) 625-3502 ext. 1011.

All requests need to be made at least 2 weeks in advance of the designated date of the meeting/event to be able to ensure that the request can be accommodated. Every effort will be made to confirm an Interpreter; however, an occasion may arise when the district is unable to confirm an interpreter. Once confirmation is received, the parent will be contacted.
Links: ADE – Special Education ADE – English Language Learners Policy & Procedures Checklist Forms: