Special education is specially designed instruction provided to children with disabilities, at no cost to parents. Both federal and Maryland state laws provide children with disabilities and their parents with important rights.
Federal Law - The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), along with related regulations, are the main source of federal law related to special education. IDEA, among other things, requires school districts to identify and evaluate children with disabilities to determine eligibility for special education.
Read the law: 20 United States Code § 1400, et seq.
Read the regulations: 34 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 300
Maryland Law - Maryland laws on education for children with disabilities are primarily located in Title 8 of the Education Article of the Maryland Code. Maryland regulations on special education are located in Title 13A, Subtitle 5 and Subtitle 8 of the Code of Maryland Regulations (COMAR).
Read the law: Md. Code, Education, Title 8
Individualized Education Program - Both federal law and Maryland state law require school systems in Maryland to provide individually designed educational plans for all children with disabilities from kindergarten through high school. The school systems also have to provide transportation and other services that the child needs to benefit from special education. The individualized education program (IEP) is a document that describes your child's special education and related services. This document outlines and describes the way the school system will provide your child with an education. Development of the IEP may take multiple meetings or the document can be developed at the same meeting where your child is identified as eligible for special education services. If you have concerns about your child's education or IEP, you have the right to ask for an IEP team meeting at any time.
Special Education, Rights, A Handbook for Maryland Families and Professionals, from the Maryland Disability Law Center is an excellent starting point for a parent to understand the laws about special education, including the IEP and IEP development process.
The Maryland Department of Education, Division of Special Education Early Intervention Services is another excellent resource. Some topics include: