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Special Education

Special education programs provide services for children from birth to age 21. Each school offers special education and related services for students who require specialized instruction. Vision and hearing services, as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy services are also available. Regional programs in the elementary and secondary schools provide alternative curriculum or behavioral approaches for students who may require more intensive academic or behavioral support. Early intervention services are available through the Infant and Toddler program and through Child Find. Child Find is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening and evaluation designed to locate, identify and refer as early as possible all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of Early Intervention Program or Preschool Special Education. The Adult Independence Program (AIP) offers job training and placement assistance to older students who will receive a certificate of completion.

All decisions regarding the placement of a child with a disability in a special education service delivery model will be made by the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team in consultation with the parents or guardians of the child and consistent with the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). A local school system is also required to provide a written copy of this information, upon request [Education Article §8-418].

For further information on all programs offered through the Department of Special Education, please click on the link in the menu bar located on the right-hand side of the page or contact:

Dr. Arden Sotomayor

Director of Special Education


Nancy Pirner

Acting Director of Special Education Compliance


Early Intervention Services

Early Intervention services address the needs of children, birth through 5 years, who have or may have disabilities or developmental delays that impact their learning. Charles County Public Schools is dedicated to developing a seamless system of services for special education students throughout their early intervention experience. CCPS’ Early Intervention services are based out of the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center and include collaboration with local service providers (physicians, daycare staff, childcare centers, etc). CCPS also has partnerships with other local agencies and services, such as Head Start and the Judy Centers.

Preschool Child Find Services

What?- Free developmental, speech and hearing screenings; if needed, assessments and special education program planning.

Who?- Children ages 3-5 years, living in Charles County who parents have concerns about their development.

Where?- F.B. Gwynn Educational Center, 5998 Radio Station Road, La Plata, Md., 20646

When?- Appointments are available from 8 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.

How?- Call the F.B. Gwynn Educational Center at 301-753-1745 or 301-934-3884 to schedule an appointment.

Preschool Special Education Programs

Special education services for preschool age students are delivered in a variety of ways, and are determined by the needs of the student and their family. Many of our students attend preschool special education programs that are located in most elementary schools; these programs include a strong inclusive philosophy and a co-teaching model. For more information, contact:

Katie Ryan

Instructional Specialist for Preschool



SOAR (Structured teaching, Opportunities for social inclusion, Active learning and Rigor) is a regionalized program for students with Autism who require specialized instruction in order to develop skills essential to achieving independence, self-advocacy, flexibility and generalization. The program serves students beginning in kindergarten through the end of the student’s high school career and utilizes evidence-based practices to support academic, communication, social, adaptive and behavioral development. Classrooms are purposefully arranged to integrate visual supports, principles of applied behavior analysis and structured work systems. SOAR classrooms maintain high levels of structure, have increased staff to student ratio and provide intensive case management. Students in the SOAR program are on track to receive a high school diploma and when appropriate, are educated in the same environments as their typically developing peers. Placement in the SOAR program is determined through an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. School placements may be at the student’s home school or a nearby school location. For additional information, please contact:

Christine Prozik
Coordinator of Autism Services

Life Skills

Life Skills classes in Charles County are designed to meet the needs of students with significant cognitive disabilities.  Instruction in Life Skills classes is designed to develop skills essential to achieving the highest level of independent functioning in the areas of personal management, functional academics, community access, and work.  Each student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) drives instruction. Students are pursuing a Maryland State Certificate of Completion upon exit of the school system. Life Skills classes are located in comprehensive elementary, middle, and high schools. To the maximum extent possible, students receiving services through a Life Skills program are educated in the same environments as their typically developing peers. Placement in a Life Skills program is determined through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting. For further information, please contact:

Rachael Lindauer

Acting Life Skills Coordinator  


Emotional Adjustment Program

The Emotional Adjustment (EA) Program is a highly structured self-contained therapeutic program with mainstreaming opportunities for those students who have difficulty accessing the academic curriculum in the general education setting due to emotional /behavioral concerns. The program is regionalized, with school sites at the elementary, middle and high school settings. The program provides students with academic, behavioral, and psychological services support for the acquisition of essential self-regulatory, social, and academic skills. The program continues to support those students who are able to maintain appropriate behavior as they return to the mainstream setting. Ultimately, these therapeutic supports are intended to assist the student in achieving emotional/behavioral stability and academic success without the need for such extensive supports. For further information, please contact:

Cathryn Lopez

EA Program and Special Education Coordinator


Adult Independence Program

Adult Independence is a vocational rehabilitation program serving students 18 to 21, who have completed the requirements for a State Certificate. IEP teams identify students who wish to enroll and whose participation in the program is likely to improve their employment outcome. Instruction often occurs in the community, where students experience adult life first hand, acquiring environmentally specific skills that support personal goals and seamless transitions to employment, travel, and community integration. Through practice, repetition, and individualized service coordination, each student develops and experiences a sustainable life system that includes all aspects of his or her adult life. Students who participate in Adult Independence become fully engaged with their adult life, while parents and guardians become adept at navigating community systems. The transition from school to adulthood becomes seamless when individuals notice no difference between their last day as public school students and their first day as independent adults.  

Transition Services

The Transition Team insures uniform case management and compliance with IDEA by providing direct services to 14 to 21 year old students with IEPs and their teachers. Transitions for each student with disabilities from school to adult life requires collaborations among family, school, and community; all working together to support the student reach his or her postsecondary goals for employment, education or training, and/or independent living. Transition Team members review each student’s IEP for COMAR and IDEA compliance. Then, assist the student’s teacher and IEP team, identifying and coordinating community resources and adult services, which include linkages to: employers and employment, work-based learning, college support services, community rehabilitation providers, and State agencies (Maryland Developmental Disabilities Administration, Division of Rehabilitation Services/Maryland State Department of Education, Mental Hygiene Administration/Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Office of Workforce Development and Adult Learning/Maryland Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation. The Transition Team also provides training and supports for developing IEP Transition Plans, writing Exit Documents, and identifying students’ career interests.

For further information regarding the Adult Independence program or Transition services, please contact:

Christina Sprague

Transition Specialist



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