Special Education Process
The Howard County Public School System (HCPSS) provides free and appropriate educational programs and related services for students with disabilities.
Federal law, IDEA 2004 (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) defines “children with disabilities” as having any of the following types of disabilities:
- Developmental delay
- Emotional disturbance
- Hearing impairment
- Intellectual Disability
- Orthopedic impairment
- Specific learning disability
- Speech or language impairment
- Traumatic brain injury
- Visual impairment (including blindness)
- Multiple disabilities
- Other health impairment
Defining Special Education
Special Education refers to instruction designed to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. It is available at no cost to families, meaning it is provided without charge, but does not preclude incidental fees which are normally charged to non-disabled students or their parents as part of the regular education program.
Special education includes:
- Instruction conducted in the classroom, in the home, in hospitals and institutions, and in other settings
- Instruction in physical education
- Vocational education, if it consists of specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability.
- Speech pathology, or any other related service, if the service consists of specially designed instruction, at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability and is considered special education rather than a related service under State standards
Eligibility for Special Education
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.
The process of determining eligibility for special education varies depending on the age of the child. Information on this process for different age groups is available via the links below: