Home - Harford County Public Schools

Special Education

  • For more information related to Child Find, contact the HCPS Child Find Center at 410-638-4386 or 410-638-4387 .

  • 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.


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 or 410-638-4387 .

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.

Birth through Age 5

The Harford County Infants and Toddlers Program, serving children with disabilities, birth through age 5, is a countywide system of coordinated, interagency, multidisciplinary early intervention services. The Harford County Public School System, Harford County Health Department, and the Harford County Department of Social Services provide services to eligible infants, toddlers, and their families.

Parents or other individuals who are concerned about a child's development may make a referral to the Harford County Infants and Toddlers Program at 410-638-3823 . Upon referral, developmental evaluations are completed to determine eligibility for early intervention services. Health and developmental needs may be identified in the areas of: hearing; speech; language; physical development; cognitive development; social-emotional development; and/or self- help skills.

Children, birth through age 5, are eligible to receive Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) services, if a developmental delay or diagnosed condition that has a high probability of resulting in developmental delay is identified during the IFSP Team Process. The IFSP provides the “what, when, where, why, and how” of early intervention services to be provided to the child with a disability and his/her family. The IFSP is implemented and monitored by staff of the Harford County Infants and Toddlers Program. Prior to the child’s third birthday, a transition planning meeting is scheduled to discuss the continued need for early intervention services (IFSP) for children birth to age 3, an extended IFSP option or the transition to preschool special education services, addressed by the Individual Educational Program (IEP) are also available for children with disabilities, ages 3 to 4 years old. Maryland Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) .

Age 3 through 21

Harford County Public Schools uses a team process to determine whether a child is a student with a disability requiring specialized instructional supports and services. Parents are valued and essential members of this collaborative team. The Individual Education Program (IEP) Team determines eligibility of a child for special education and related services by means of a comprehensive evaluation process, which includes a range of data sources including, as appropriate: academic or developmental performance; communication; general intelligence; health, including hearing and vision; motor abilities; and social, emotional or behavioral status. If a child is determined to have an educational disability requiring special education services, an IEP is developed by the school staff with input from the parents. The IEP identifies the child’s present levels of academic achievement and functional performance, measurable annual goals and short term benchmarks, a statement of special education and related services necessary to implement the IEP.

Harford County Public Schools provides for a continuum of special education services and placement considerations. Service delivery and placement options are based upon the needs identified in the IEP and are a result of the IEP Team decision-making process.

Special Education Service Delivery

Harford County Public Schools seeks to improve the performance of all children with disabilities and assist in narrowing achievement gaps by ensuring equal access to curriculum and differentiated instruction in the least restrictive environment. The service delivery continuum includes: consultative supports; inclusion utilizing a co-teaching model; resource or related services provision outside of the general education setting; self-contained learning environments; regional programs or a separate day school placement. Programming options include:

  • Infants and Toddlers:
    Services provided to children with disabilities and their families, birth through age 5, in home, community or center-based settings.

  • Preschool Services:
    A continuum of services provided to children with disabilities, ages 3 to 5, in community or school-based settings.

  • School-age Kindergarten through Grade 12:
    A continuum of services provided to children and youth with disabilities in comprehensive schools, regional programs and a public separate day school.

  • Post-Secondary Services:
    Services provided to youth with disabilities ages 18 to 21 in comprehensive high-schools, community settings and a public separate day school.

  • Non-public and Interagency Placements:
    Services provided to children and youth with disabilities in accordance with COMAR 13A.09.09 and 13A.09.10: “Placement of a child with a disability in a nonpublic educational program”.

Family Supports/Resources

Office of Third Party Billing/Medicaid

The Office of Third Party Billing is a division of the Department of Special Education reporting to the Director of Budgets. Third Party Billing is a process that generates Medicaid funds for the Harford County Public Schools. Recovery costs for health related services are sought “after the fact” for students who meet Medicaid guidelines. Health-related services are identified in a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) or Individual Family Service Plan (ISFP). These services include speech-language therapy, occupational or physical therapy, nursing, audiology, social work, and psychological services for screening, evaluation and treatment. In addition to health-related services, Harford County Public Schools bills Medicaid for case management services provided to children 3 to 21 years. Medicaid funds are used to supplement specialized services provided by school personnel.


For more information about Medical Assistance/Medicaid Eligibility:

Our Team

Director: Mike Thatcher

Coordinator of Infants & Toddlers:
Melissa Romano
Coordinator of Elementary Programs:
Kimberly Heeter
Coordinator of Compliance:
Colleen Sasdelli

Coordinator of Related Services:
Carey Reise
Coordinator of Secondary Programs:
Kate Snow
Coordinator of State and Federal Programs:
Pauline Timmons

Coordinator of
Non-Public & Interagency Placements:

Robin Meyer
Coordinator for
Low-incidence Disability Programs:

Kim Manzo

Specialized Services: Related Services and Vision/Hearing Services

  • Related Services:

    Harford County Public Schools (HCPS) provides a full continuum of related services for eligible students. Occupational Therapists, Physical Therapists, and Speech-Language Pathologists are licensed healthcare professionals trained to address the needs of students to support access, participation, and/or progress in his/her learning environment.

    Occupational Therapy
    Occupational Therapists (OTs) address a variety of needs including, but not limited to: sensory integration/processing, fine motor skills, feeding, attention, and self-help skills.

    Physical Therapy
    Physical Therapists (PTs) address a variety of needs including, but not limited to: gross motor skills, safe navigation of the physical school environment, access to the learning environment, and maximizing independence.

    Speech-Language Therapy
    Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) address a variety of needs including, but not limited to: articulation, language, fluency, feeding, and communication development to facilitate learning.

  • Vision/Hearing Services:
    Vision Services
    Harford County Public Schools’ Vision Program provides services to students, birth through 21, who are blind or have a visual impairment. In accordance with COMAR 13A.05.01.03B(84), a visual impairment is defined as any impairment in vision which, even with correction, adversely affects a student's educational performance; and includes, partial sight and blindness. The term includes; but is not limited to, diagnoses of:
    • "Legal blindness" - visual acuity is 20/200 or less, in the better eye, after correction, or a field restriction of less than 20^;
    • "Partial sight" - visual acuity is 20/70 or less, in the better eye, after correction.
    • Other visual impairments that adversely affect educational performance (e.g. convergence insufficiency and binocular disorders).

    The Vision Program offers specialized Braille Programs within a designated elementary, middle, and high school, with a Braille Transcriber at each location. Teachers of the Visually Impaired (TVI), as well as Orientation and Mobility Instructors (O&M), travel to the students' assigned school or natural settings to provide services relating to the vision loss of the student. The Vision Program staff work collaboratively with the family, school staff, and eye medical professionals through consultation in order to provide support and resources.

    Hearing Services
    Harford County Public Schools provides a continuum of services for students who are deaf and hard of hearing from Birth to age 21. Teachers of the Hearing Impaired provide specialized instruction to meet the unique needs of our students, which enable them to access their instruction. Depending on the need, students may be provided accommodations and modifications; such as assistive listening devices or interpreting services.

    Harford County Public Schools' audiologist will review a student's audiogram, functional hearing, and ability levels to determine if a student has an educationally significant hearing loss. The audiologist will consult with school personnel to ensure that appropriate accommodations are being made in the school.

  • Eligibility:

    Eligibility for the continuum of related services and vision/hearing services is determined by the appropriate team once all relevant evaluations are completed and reviewed. Referrals can be initiated by a parent or outside provider with parent permission.

  • Referral Information:

    Based upon the age of the child, please direct your inquiry or referral to the following offices: