Desert Sands's Special Education

Special Education

Special education provides specialized academic instruction (SAI) to address the educational and related developmental needs of children with disabilities. This includes Early Intervention Service for infants and toddlers, pre-school for students starting at age three, services for school aged children in grades K-12 and transition services for eligible students up to age 22.

Desert Sands Unified School District is committed to increasing inclusive practices across the district to better meet the needs of all students receiving special education services.

In General - To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. (

Referrals - Special Education is defined in federal law as specially designed instruction, at no cost to parents or guardians, to meet the unique needs of a disabled child. The California State Department of Education has interpreted the federal law into specific criteria by which a student can qualify for special education programs/services. Some students require special education services because of physical, emotional, intellectual, medical, or learning disabilities.

The District is committed to the philosophy that each child must be provided an appropriate public education in the least restrictive educational environment (most normal educational setting) designed to meet his/her unique needs.

If you feel your child may qualify as a child having exceptional needs or would like more information, please contact the Special Education Department. Referrals for special education services can also be made at any school office within Desert Sands Unified School District


For all Special Education record requests, please email:

DSUSD staff can access the Special Education Intake Form here.


Charity Plaxton-Hennings, Psy.D. Senior Director (760) 771-8651 VoIP 18654
Gwendolyn Brown Administrative Assistant (760) 771-8651 VoIP 18651
Tamara Petty Elementary Coordinator (760) 238-9806 VoIP 18220
Marrio Walker Secondary Coordinator (760) 771-8616 VoIP 18616
Heidi Allen Program Specialist (760) 238-9697 VoIP 18222
Michelle Stravolo Program Specialist (760) 238-9841 VoIP 18223
Bradley Zambanini Program Specialist (760) 771-8657 VoIP 18657
James Lister-Looker Program Specialist (760) 238-9695 VoIP 18302
Corrine Szarvas-Kidd Program Specialist (760) 771-8737 VoIP 18737
Pedro Mercado Program Specialist (760) 771-8514 VoIP 18514
Gayle Mollerstuen Project Facilitator (760) 771-8783 VoIP 18783
Laura Anesko Project Facilitator (760) 771-8686 VoIP 18686
Website by SchoolMessenger Presence . © 2020 Intrado Corporation. All rights reserved. Login