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Special Education

Harford County Public Schools – Department of Special Education believes that individuals with disabilities achieve their full potential in a comprehensive and coordinated birth to 21 system of services emphasizing high expectations for all.


Harford County Public Schools – Department of Special Education provides leadership, supports, and accountability for results to all stakeholders by way of a seamless, comprehensive system of coordinated services to children, students and youth with disabilities, birth to 21, and their families.

Special Education at a Glance

Special Education in Harford County Public Schools is a collaborative effort involving schools, families and community agencies working together to ensure a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all children with disabilities, birth through age 21. Special education is defined as specially designed instruction, provided at no cost to parents, in order to meet the unique needs of a child with an educational or developmental disability. Services are provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE), to the maximum extent possible.

A Child with a Disability or Student with a Disability means a child, birth to age 21, evaluated in accordance with IDEA or COMAR having any of the following disabilities, causing an adverse effect on the child’s educational performance resulting in the need of special education and related services:

  • Autism
  • Deaf-blindness
  • Developmental Delay
  • Emotional Disability
  • Hearing Impairment
  • Intellectual Disability
  • Multiple Disabilities
  • Orthopedic Impairment
  • Other Health Impairment
  • Specific Learning Disability
  • Speech or Language Impairment
  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Visual Impairment (including Blindness)

Special education services are available in all Harford County Public Schools and across a range of learning environments.The district’s processes and procedures for disability determination, placement and service delivery align with federal and State regulations. Harford County Public Schools utilizes the Statewide IEP Process Guide as the framework for student educational planning and compliance with the Requirements of the 2004 Reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

Child Find

Child Find is a special education service provided by Harford County Public Schools to identify children with disabilities, birth to age 21, who are suspected of having an educational disability and may be in need of special education and related services. Child Find Services are provided year-round, at no-cost. Preschool children residing in Harford County who are not enrolled in a preschool program as well as children ages 3 – 21 attending an MSDE approved private/parochial school located in Harford County are eligible to receive Child Find services.

The Harford County Public Schools’ Child Find process includes referral, prescreening to determine the need for assessment, an initial evaluation or reevaluation to determine eligibility and the development of an IEP or Service Plan upon eligibility for special education services. This process begins with a referral to the HCPS Child Find Center initiated by the parent or by an individual familiar with the child’s development (with parent consent). Parents of children enrolled in Harford County Public Schools, should contact their local school if they suspect their child may have a disability requiring special education services.

For more information related to Child Find, contact the HCPS Child Find Center at 410-638-4386/87. Parents of children, who are not yet three, may contact the Harford County Infants and Toddlers Program at 410 638-3823 for inquiries about accessing services.