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Programs and Services

Who determines what services are provided and where they are offered?

Individual Education Program (IEP) teams consider service delivery options based on the needs of each student. Teams may view regular, resource or separate settings available at every school for students participating in the North Carolina Standard Course of Study.  

IEP teams may also consider self-contained classes at separate public schools for students with significant behavioral challenges or significant cognitive disabilities who participate in the North Carolina Extended Content Standards.

CMS provides comparable services to students identified with a disability who enroll from another district. Parents should contact the student's home school to initiate these services.

Programs and Services

The Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) of 2004 ensures that all eligible children with a disability who requires special education receive a free appropriate public education. In addition, IDEA mandates that eligible students receive individualized instruction specially designed to meet the learner's unique needs. To learn about the school-aged programs available in CMS, click HERE. To learn more about the preschool programs available in CMS, click HERE.

Program Locations

CMS Programs for Exceptional Children Locations

Exceptional Children Preschool Special Education Services

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools is committed to providing developmentally appropriate practices within high-quality early childhood services to preschoolers within the district. Our Preschool Special Education Program works collaboratively with CMS' Pre-Kindergarten Program and elementary schools to identify, place, and provide services for eligible children. In addition, we partner with families and the community to build a strong foundation for the educational future of the young children we serve.

Preschool Special Education Services are designed for children ages 3 to 5 with disabilities (not age-eligible to attend Kindergarten) and need specially designed instruction. The goal is to provide the support these children need early. Hence, they have the support, services, and skills needed to succeed when they enter Kindergarten.

Preschool Special Education Services are based on the Individualized Education Program written for each child. Goals and objectives are written according to an educational model. Any related services that the child receives are designed to support the educational goals.

Preschool children with disabilities are served in various settings and natural environments, including home, child care centers, private child care homes, Head Start, NC Pre-K, private preschool programs, and public school classrooms. 

Starting the referral process for Preschool Special Education Services

If you suspect your child has a disability and may need special education services, and your child is 3-5 years of age and not age-eligible to attend Kindergarten, you may request to start the referral process. If you have questions regarding your preschool-aged child, contact the child find office at (980) 343-2720.

Project SEARCH

Project SEARCH is an international program model that provides work experience to assist youth and adults with significant disabilities in making successful transitions from school to work. This one-year Transition-to-work program takes place entirely at the workplace with a combination of classroom instruction, career exploration, and hands-on training through 3 worksite rotations. After the program ends, participants are supported with obtaining and maintaining competitive employment.  

There are over 435 Project SEARCH programs across 45 states and eight countries. There are over 12 sites in North Carolina. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools partnered with Novant Health in 2020 to establish two Project SEARCH sites in Mecklenburg County: Matthews Medical Center and Huntersville Medical Center.  Prior to that, CMS had partnered with Atrium Health Pineville. The benefits are extensive.  

Please review the Project SEARCH Charlotte High School Transition Program Entrance Criteria to see if your child is an eligible candidate for the program. If you have any questions, please contact Tracy Hales, EC Transition Coordinator ( or 980-343-5328) 

Meeting the needs of students with disabilities

Parent Information about Assignments English | Español

Continuum of Programs and Services – Least Restrictive Environment English | Español