Identification of Children with Disabilities
Child Find is a component of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that requires school systems to identify, locate, and evaluate all children with disabilities, between the ages of birth to 21, who are in need of early intervention or special education services. Anyone who suspects that a child has a disability should refer that child to determine eligibility to receive early intervention or special education and related services.
A parent or school personnel may request an evaluation of a child at any time by writing to the child’s principal or the local special education administrator. A written request documents your referral and starts the referral time line. The referring source must explain the reasons that an evaluation is requested and any efforts that have been made to address the concerns. Screening and assessment must be completed prior to identifying a student as eligible for special education.
The eligibility of a student for special education and related services is based on a comprehensive evaluation process. This process shall begin when there is a concern regarding a child’s educational performance and a disability is suspected. The parents of the student, the student's teacher, the school administrator, a team of qualified special education professionals, and other professionals who work with the student participate in the evaluation process to determine whether the student has a disability and is in need of special education and related services.
This process includes a review of information provided by parents, information such as work samples or test scores that may indicate how well the student understands the curriculum, observation reports by educational professionals, teacher information, and other relevant information. If, based on a review of this information, the team suspects a disability, parent permission to assess the child to determine the presence of a disability will be requested.
The team will reconvene to review the results of the agreed upon assessments and will determine, based on that information and other information available to the team, if the child is eligible for Special Education. The team will use CCPS Eligibility Tools for the suspected disability/disabilities to guide the discussion and inform the decision regarding eligibility.
A Child with a Disability or Student with a Disability means a child evaluated in accordance with the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR) as meeting the criteria listed for 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, or visual impairment which has an adverse effect on the student’s educational performance and who, as a result, needs special education and related services.
If a team determines that a child is eligible for special education services, the team will draft an Individualized Education Program for the child. Commonly referred to as an IEP, an individualized education program is a written plan that is designed for any student who receives special education and related services. IEPs are required for every special education student under IDEA. The IEP describes the goals that are set for the student over the course of the school year and spells out any special supports needed to help achieve those goals. Parents are an important part of the IEP process.
In time, a student may no longer need special education services and may exit from a special education program. The IEP team must conduct an evaluation before determining that a student no longer requires special education services.