Colorado Department of Education and PEAK

This Voices from the Field interview series features select OSEP federally-funded parent centers and state education agencies who have well-established and high-functioning collaborative relationships. In October of 2021, CADRE staff interviewed leaders from the Colorado Department of Education (Mary Ann Fleury, Ph.D.) and PEAK (Michele Williers and Ann Wilson) to learn more about what makes their partnership so effective. This hour-long interview provides viewers with tips and takeaways that may help others improve their own relationships and establish new ones. Use the companion question guide below to navigate the interview. A transcript is also available for download. CADRE is extremely grateful to Mary Ann, Michele and Ann for devoting their time and energy to this interview.


Key Takeaways from the CDE/PEAK Video

  • Collaboration helps the agencies to stay grounded in parents’ view.
  • Strong relationship between agencies models to districts the importance of embedding family needs into the work to affect better outcomes for students.
  • Formal and informal structures to address family needs:
  1. Parent IEP Input Form helps them to engage in a meaningful way in the IEP process;
  2. Regular Friday meetings with families is a proactive approach to avoid reactivity to issues and raises opportunities for better access;
  3. Webpage with ADR Fast Facts, FAQs, etc.;
  4. Agency co-training opportunities for IEP teams and IEP facilitation;
  5. Agency co-facilitation of board meetings allows for CDE and PEAK to be equals at the table.
  • CDE sponsored Keynote Speakers at PEAK event bring great support to the collaboration.
  • ADR AB #1 goal to improve outcomes for students.
  • Importance of providing skill-building for improved communications, confidence-building, and practical curriculum.
  • Data sharing between agencies allows for additional supports.
  • Offering 1-to-1 ADR coaching for parents.
  • Keeping abreast of teacher turnover such that new teachers understand the process of IEP facilitation and ADR options.
  • Important to proceed slowly and together rather than fast and separate.

Question Guide

  1. Introductions (1:48)
  2. What do you value in working together? (9:50))
  3. Describe the formal and informal structures that PEAK has in place for collaborating. (15:44)
  4. Explain the history of the CDE ADR AB, why it started, and its unique function. (27:55)
  5. Brief recap by CADRE. (34:01)
  6. How does the AB function to serve families? (35:00)
  7. What about the impact of coaching for districts needing additional supports, and what does the data sharing look like between the two agencies? (41:04)
  8. Brief recap by CADRE. (48:30)
  9. Final recommendations? (48:47)
  10. Final recap by CADRE (52:23)

Interested in other interviews with leading voices in the field of special education dispute resolution? Get more here: