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Special Education

We support the rights of all students to receive a free, appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment to meet their individual needs. Our goal is to prepare them to participate in and serve their community with dignity and pride.

HCPSS staff work to ensure high-quality special education services are delivered in a consistent and collaborative manner. Our leaders develop transparent, open and accessible communication to ensure that parents, guardians and community members trust in the integrity of the school system and are active and valued partners.

A young, Down Syndrome student smiling.

Inside HCPSS Podcast – Episode 4 – Special Education: No Two Students Learn the Same Way on the Same Day

In the fourth episode of the Inside HCPSS podcast, Executive Director of Special Education Dr. Terri Savage joins HCPSS Superintendent Dr. Michael J. Martirano to discuss our Special Education program, a program providing a continuum of services for children from birth to age 21 with a wide range of individual needs. Read a full transcript of their conversation →

Our Vision: Student-Focused and Collaborative

We’re building a collaborative community that maximizes the experiences of all learners, birth through age 21.

  • Everyone is united in a common commitment to ensuring success for each child

  • Children have access to general education curriculum with rigorous expectations and standards to create a better future for themselves and others

  • Special education processes are participant friendly, culturally responsive and collaborative with a focus on the strengths and needs of the student / child.

  • A comprehensive range of instructional and related services, supports and resources are provided to schools, staff, students, children and families to meet the assessed needs of students and children

  • Parents, students and children are heard and understood, and their input is valued

  • There is a shared understanding among all staff, students, children and families of expectations, roles, and responsibilities

  • Everyone works together to set and achieve the highest possible standards, both academic and behavioral, and to be accountable for data-driven results

  • All professional staff are valued for their knowledge, experience, and competence

  • Staff and families are supported and best practices are promoted through comprehensive professional learning and family training opportunities

  • Services are coordinated with community resources to support students, children and their families

The Special Education Process

The process of determining eligibility for special education varies depending on the age of the child.

Children with disabilities from birth to age 21 may be eligible for special education. School-age children who are eligible usually receive special education services in the public school. Preschool children may receive services at school, at home, or both. Students with disabilities who attend private or religiously affiliated schools also may be eligible for special education services.


HCPSS offers a wide range of programs for children ages birth-21. The programs address an array of needs, including those related to speech, hearing, vision, physical, cognitive, communication, social or emotional, and adaptive development.

View Programs 


HCPSS provides a continuum of special education services and placement considerations for all students with disabilities. Services and placements range from indirect services through residential services.

View Services 

Staffing Plan

HCPSS’ Special Education Staffing Plan is consistent with procedures outlined by the Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) for the purpose of ensuring a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) for all students with disabilities.

View the 2024 Staffing Plan 

Family Resources

The Family Support and Resource Center is designed to help families of children with special needs. Services include workshops, IEP assistance, IFSP assistance, newsletters, a lending library, facilitation of parent support groups, and community resources and service referrals. The center is open during the school year, Monday through Friday, and over the summer by appointment.

Visit the Family Support and Resource Center 

Behavior Talks

Behavior Talks is a series of brief trainings created by HCPSS staff. Each video shares useful tips to promote student success related to behavior, social/emotional needs, organization/self-management at home, and more.

Watch Behavior Talks 

Across the Age Range: A Continuum of Care

Child Find

Child Find is the service that the State of Maryland has established to locate, identify, and evaluate children with disabilities.

Extended School Year (ESY)

Programs and services year that extend through the summer.

Career and Community Exploration

Work experiences and transition activities supporting ages 16 to 21.

HCPSS Special Education Staff Contacts

Terri Savage, Executive Director, Special Education

Janice Yetter, Director, Special Education

Jen Harwood, Coordinator, Early Intervention Services

Emily Kinsler, Coordinator, Countywide Services

Patricia Gunshore, Coordinator, Special Education Compliance, Non-Public Services and Family Support

Kelly Russo, Coordinator, Special Education Compliance and Dispute Resolution

View all Special Education Staff Contacts 

Cedar Lane School

11630 Scaggsville Road, Fulton, MD 20759

Paul Owens, Principal | 410-888-8800

Cedar Lane School

MSDE Contact

The MSDE Family Support Section of the Family Support and Dispute Resolution Branch, responds to parent inquiries, assists parents with navigating Maryland’s early intervention and special education systems, and provides parents with school system resources.

Ken Hudock
Section Chief, Family Support Services
Maryland State Department of Education
Division of Early Intervention and Special Education Services
410-767-0255 or