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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:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Deafness
  • 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:

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, as described below.

Child Find: Children Ages 3 to 5

Prior to Kindergarten

Email the Child Find Office directly with “3 to 5” in the subject line of the email or call 410-313-7046.

Learn more about the special education process for children ages 3-5.

Child Find: School-Aged Children (5–21)

For both resident and non-resident students who are parentally placed in a private or religiously affiliated school in Howard County.

Email the Child Find Office.

Learn more about the special education process for school-aged children (5-21).