Exceptional Student Services

Welcome to Exceptional Student Services

  • Our Vision 

    We are united in a commitment to raising achievement and having high expectations for each student with exceptional needs. They will develop self-confidence, independence, social connectedness, and self-advocacy skills in order to lead a self-determined, fulfilled life.


    Our Purpose

    Exceptional Student Services is the umbrella under which students with special needs are served. We currently serve approximately 1371 students in programs and classrooms throughout the district. Students fall into many different special education categories, ranging from emotional disabilities to physical disabilities to speech therapy needs and all stages in between.

    Exceptional Student Services includes the following:

    • Special Education
    • Assistive Technology
    • Occupational and Physical Therapy
    • Preschool
    • Psychology
    • Speech Therapy


    Our Staff

    It takes talented and caring staff members to ensure that our department maintains quality services for students. We never forget that everything we do is for the benefit of students, whether or not we work directly with them.  Please do not hesitate to contact us! 

    Susan Smith, Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Support 

    928.527.6171; ssmith2@fusd1.org

    Responsible for all aspects of Exceptional Student Services Department, including all special education staff, school psychologists, speech therapists, occupational/physical therapists, special education therapists, integrated preschools, and gifted education.  Also oversees the Bilingual Education, Indian Education, and Student Support Services Departments.

    Account Specialist/Office Manager: Michele Moore (527-6160)


    Alisha Mihoda, ESS Coordinator 

    928.527.6179; amihoda@fusd1.org

    Coordinates district elementary specialized programs, occupational and physical therapists, new program specialists, and the Extended School Year (ESY) Program.


    Sara Martinet, ESS/Gifted Specialist 

    928.527.6290; smartinet@fusd1.org

    Supports students and staff with curriculum, instruction, and alternative assessments. Provides support for the Gifted Program throughout the district.


    Rachel deJesus

    928.527.6101; rdejesus@fusd1.org

    Board Certified Behavior Analyst who provides assistance to students and staff throughout the district in the area of behavior intervention.


    Joel Axler, Lead Psychologist/Coordinator 

    928.527.6227; jaxler@fusd1.org

    Coordinates school psychologists.


    Janis Doneski-Nicol, Assistive Technology Specialist 

    928.773.8198, ext. 4928; jdoneski-nicol@fusd1.org 

    Coordinates ordering, distribution, and training for assistive technology software and devices district wide. Provides assistance to students with disabilities and staff in the area of assistive technology.


    Michele Moore, Account Specialist/Administrative Assistant 

    928.527.6160; mmoore@fusd1.org

    Assistant to Director of Equity, Inclusion, and Support. Maintains ESS Department budgets and special education staffing allocations. Prepares departmental purchase orders. Prepares department payroll.  Requests substitutes for vacant special education teacher/parapro positions district wide.  Prepares and submits various special education grants with Arizona Department of Education. Submits annual special education data collection. 


    Debbie Kelsey, Program Secretary 

    928.527.6170; dkelsey@fusd1.org

    Responsible for student data management, including student records databases and files for special needs students. Provides assistance with e-IEP Pro. Prepares various state reports, including special education census. Responds to student records requests.



    Heather Mitchell, Medicaid Specialist 

    928.527.6163; hmitchell@fusd1.org

    Maintains Medicaid in the Public Schools Program (MIPS) and Medicaid Administrative Claiming Program (MAC), including training, organization of billing records, and all aspects related to Medicaid.  Coordinates registration for First Aid/CPR training for special education paraprofessionals.  Provides assistance with e-IEP Pro.