Special Education Services

Student and teacher reading

If your child has a disability or you suspect he or she may have a disability, you may request that the school system evaluate your child. An evaluation is conducted free of charge by the county. Special education law requires the child be evaluated in all areas of suspected disability.

Identification is the process used to decide if a child may have a disability and, therefore, need assessments. If the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team decides that a child may have a disability and be in need of special education, the team recommends assessments to determine eligibility and identify the child’s educational needs.

Children from Birth through Age 2
The Howard County Infants and Toddlers Program (410-313-7017) is a countywide system of coordinated, interagency, multidisciplinary early intervention services. The Howard County Public School System, Howard County Health Department, and the Howard County Department of Social Services provide services to eligible infants, toddlers, and their families. Health and developmental needs may be identified in the areas of: hearing, speech, language, physical development, cognitive development, social-emotional development, and self-help skills. Children are eligible to receive services if they have a developmental delay, atypical development likely to result in subsequent delay, or a diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay.

Children Ages 3 – 5
The Preschool Child Find Team(410-313-7046) is an interdisciplinary team that provides identification services to children from three to five years of age who may have a disability including developmental delay. The team includes an educational diagnostician, a speech-language pathologist, a psychologist, an occupational therapist, a physical therapist, an audiologist, a pediatrician, and a nurse. Parents are important members of the team and are included in each IEP team meeting. The Preschool Child Find Team provides all services at no cost to the parent.

School Age Students Enrolled in Private or Religiously Affiliated Schools
School-age children who attend a private or religiously affiliated school in Howard County, whether residing in Howard County or another jurisdiction, may be referred for identification by calling the Child Find Program at the County Diagnostic Center (410-313-7046). Parents are asked to complete a Parent Referral form, Parent/Guardian Questionnaire, and Educational Report form. Written permission is obtained for Howard County Public School System staff to review the student’s records, reports from any specialists who have worked with the student, and Educational Reports completed by the student’s current teachers.

School Age Students Enrolled in Howard County Public Schools
A student who is suspected of having a disability is referred to the Individualized Education Program (IEP) team. The IEP team meets to receive the referral and to review existing data, information from the parent, previously implemented instructional interventions and strategies, current classroom-based assessments, and observations by teachers and related service providers. Based on this information the IEP team shall determine the need for assessment.

Evaluation and Assessment
After a thorough evaluation and parent interview, the assessment reports are reviewed at an Individual Education Program (IEP) team meeting and a written evaluation report is completed to determine whether the child is a child with a disability. The evaluation report includes a summary of the child’s performance in each area of suspected disability; relevant functional, cognitive, developmental, behavioral, and physical information; and instructional implications for the preschool child’s participation in appropriate activities. The IEP team completes the evaluation of the child within 60 days of receiving the signed permission to test or 90 days from the date of the receipt of the signed written referral, whichever comes first. The parent is given a copy of the assessment reports, the Evaluation Report, and the IEP Team Meeting summary. For those children eligible for services, an Individualized Education Program is developed.

Individualized Education Program (IEP)
If the child is determined to be a child with a disability, an IEP is developed by the school staff with input from the parents within 30 days of the meeting to review assessment results. The IEP team reviews the IEP, identifies services needed to implement the IEP, and considers options for the provision of services in the least restrictive environment.