Students with disabilities are entitled to a free, appropriate public education from birth to age 21. For residents of Baltimore, City Schools provides a range of services to ensure that all students' needs are met, whether in regular education classes, resource rooms or self-contained classes at public schools, separate special education centers, or nonpublic special education schools. Students receive appropriate supports, interventions, and rigorous instruction, with the goals of high achievement and postsecondary success.
To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled, and special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the particular child's disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
The first steps in ensuring that the right services are provided are to confirm the nature of a child's special needs and to develop a program that will provide the necessary support.
If you think your child or a child you know may have a disability related to vision, hearing, health, or behavior, call Child Find at 443-984-1011. This program can arrange for evaluation and help in getting services to support areas including
Does Child Find work with all children?
Child Find services are available for
For children younger than 3, please call the Infants and Toddlers Program at 410-396-1666.
Who can refer a child?
In most cases, a parent or guardian contacts Child Find. Sometimes referrals are received from advocates or attorneys representing a parent or by staff members from the Department of Social Services, Department of Juvenile Services, or other state agencies.
How does Child Find work?
Once a referral is received, information about the child is gathered, reviewed, and screened. If the information suggests that the child has a disability, specific assessments will be scheduled. If the results indicate that the child has a disability, an IEP will be developed that outlines the special education and related services that will be provided.
How do I contact Child Find?
For children ages 3 to 21, please call 443-984-1011. For children younger than 3, call the Infants and Toddlers Program at 410-396-1666.
Individualized Education Programs and 504 plans outline accommodations, services, and supports to ensure that students with disabilities can access a free and appropriate public education.
What's the difference between a 504 plan and an IEP?
A 504 plan provides accommodations to general education students so that they can access the curriculum. An IEP provides a specialized program of instruction to students who have been identified under the law as having a particular educational disability. A student may require 504 accommodations but not IEP services. For example, if a student has poor vision, she or he may simply need 504 accommodations in the general education setting to see the blackboard or projection screen.
Who should I contact if I think my child or a child I know needs a 504 plan or an IEP?
Child Find will provide referrals for children suspected of having a disability. For parents and guardians of children already enrolled in City Schools, you can also ask your principal for the name of a staff member to assist you.
An IEP is a written document that outlines the supports and services that the IEP team agrees are required to meet the needs of a specific child, based on her or his disability.
How is it determined if a child needs an IEP?
After an adult contacts Child Find or school staff, the school's IEP team meets to review information about the child. If the team suspects that the child has a disability and may need special education, assessments in all areas related to the suspected disability are recommended. These can usually be completed by staff at the school.
The IEP team reviews written reports of the assessments, which include summaries of how any identified disabilities may affect the child's progress in school. The IEP team then completes the evaluation (within 60 days of receiving signed permission from the parent/guardian to assess the child or 90 days from the date of receipt of the written referral, whichever comes first). The parent is given a copy of the assessment reports, the evaluation report, and the IEP team meeting summary.
The evaluation report includes a determination of whether
If both these things have been determined, an IEP is developed.
What's in an IEP?
An IEP has these components.
Present levels of educational performance. This includes information about the child’s strengths and needs as determined through evaluations by teachers, parents, and school staff. The evaluations can include observations, written or verbal comments, and assessment results. It the child requires services besides those related to academic needs (e.g., language development, behavior, social skills), these concerns will also be outlined.
Goals. The IEP must include measurable goals that can reasonably be accomplished in one year. Goals are based on present levels of educational performance and focus on the child’s needs resulting from the disability. They can be academic, social, or behavioral, or can address other educational needs — but in all cases they should be written to support the child in the general curriculum.
Special education and related services. This describes the set of services that will put the IEP into action and how the services will be delivered. Students with disabilities receive services in the "least restrictive environment." The general education classroom is the preferred setting, but a range of options is available depending on the child's needs. Also included here will be
Who is on the IEP team?
Typically, the IEP team includes the following:
Who should I contact if I have questions or concerns?
The IEP chair can answer questions about your child's IEP and delivery of services. You can also speak with your school principal.
If you do not receive the information you need or you have a concern that isn't being addressed at the school, please contact the Special Education department in the district's Academics Office.
For children who are having difficulty learning but don't qualify for an IEP, a 504 plan may be a good alternative. These plans stem from Section 504 in federal civil rights law, under the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which provides protection against discrimination for individuals with documented mental or physical disabilities.
How is it determined if a child is eligible for a 504 plan?
If a student has a mental or physical impairment that substantially limits one or more of the following major life activities, then a 504 plan may be appropriate:
This determination is made by a team of knowledgeable individuals at the school — including the parents, who are familiar with the student and his or her disability.
How do I request an evaluation?
If you believe that your child may be eligible for a 504 plan, contact your school principal and request a 504 eligibility meeting.
What sort of accommodations are provided under a 504 plan?
The accommodations depend on the student's needs. For example, a student who uses a wheelchair may have a Section 504 Plan that provides for special transportation during field trips. A student who has diabetes may have a Section 504 Plan that includes a schedule for getting medication.
Devices, software, or equipment can help with learning for students with disabilities. A student's IEP or 504 plan often indicates the technology needed. The following may be helpful in meeting a specific student's needs.