Guilford County Schools Exceptional Children: FAQs ANSWERED!

Often, parents join our private Facebook group, Triad NC Special Needs Parents Support, because they are in need of help with school options. Another common scenario is people who are either moving to the area or considering such a move who want more information about special education school options for their children. This post is generated from a collaboration between myself and the Guilford County Schools Exceptional Children Parent Liason, Jacqui Hawkins.

This post offers concise answers to frequently asked questions about the process of getting special education services in Guilford County. I hope to maintain this collaboration with Jacqui and cover other topics relating to special education in Guilford County in the future!

Question: My child is currently enrolled in Guilford County Schools, but I think he or she might have special needs and need EC services. What are the steps in this process?

Answer: Concerned parents of school-age children can contact their child’s home school IN WRITING and request an evaluation to determine if their child is eligible for special education services. Briefly describe your concerns and/or attach any medical documentation detailing evidence of a disability and any testing done outside the school system, if applicable. Address the letter to the principal, but cc the child’s teacher also. E-mail is sufficient but be sure to send “high priority”, request a “read receipt” and follow up with a phone call to ensure it was received.

Question: We are moving into Guilford County from another North Carolina county, and my child currently has an IEP and/or 504 plan. Who do I contact to get my child enrolled in Guilford County and receive the services needed? What are the steps in this process?

Answer: A parent new to the district would enroll their child at the school associated with their home address. A school locator is here. Parents should have copies of their child’s latest IEP (and any other supporting documents) available when registering. Be sure to inform the school that your child is considered an “EC” (exceptional children) student or receiving special education services. The school will then work with Guilford County Exceptional Children’s Services to review the documents to determine whether the “home” school is appropriate or if the child will be reassigned to another school better suited to meet the child’s needs. Guilford County Schools will take care of requesting records from your child’s previous school.

Other documents that you’ll need:

Question: We are moving into Guilford County from out-of-state, and my child currently has an IEP and/or 504 plan. Who do I contact to get my child enrolled in Guilford County Schools and receive the services needed? What are the steps in this process?

Answer: A parent new to the district would enroll their child at the school associated with their home address. A school locator is here. Parents should have copies of their child’s latest IEP (and any other supporting documents) available when registering. Be sure to inform the school that your child is considered an “EC” (exceptional children) student or receiving special education services. The school will then work with Guilford County Exceptional Children’s Services to review the documents to determine whether the “home” school is appropriate or if the child will be reassigned to another school better suited to meet the child’s needs. Guilford County Schools will take care of requesting records from your child’s previous school.

Other documents that you’ll need:

The child’s school will meet 30 days after the student has been enrolled to determine eligibility in NC and write a NC IEP.

Question: I have a toddler or preschooler who I think might have special needs and need EC services. What steps can I take?

If your child is younger than three years old, contact the CDSA (Children’s Developmental Services Agency) to make a referral:

Debbi Kennerson
debbi.kennerson@dhhs.nc.gov,
122 N. Elm Street, Suite 400
Greensboro, NC 27401
Phone: 336-334-5601
Fax: 336-334-5657

You can refer your child to the Infant Toddler program by phone, fax, letter, or in person at your CDSA office.

If your child is already three years old, contact your local school district at (336) 294-7473 and make a referral for screening/evaluation.

Find more FAQ about Early Learning / Exceptional Children Preschool Services here!

Question: Does every school have capability to handle every diagnosis/need, or do certain schools in the district specialize in certain kinds of needs? How do I know where my child will be placed, and how does placement work?

In following IDEA and the least restrictive environment, Guilford County Schools does its best to educate students in their “home” school, or the school that they would attend if they didn’t have a diagnosis/disability. Each school within GCS offers the full continuum of services.

However, if the child has a specific need that can’t be accommodated in the “home” school, that child may be transported to another school that can better meet their needs.

With that said, Guilford County does have 4 public separate schools for students with more comprehensive needs:

Christine Joyner Greene Education Center (Jamestown) is a public separate school serving students 9th grade through age 22 years with special needs. We serve students who need the most intensive services offered on the education continuum. We serve students in grades 9-12 who have moderate to severe developmental delays and autism, or who need a highly structured, smaller school environment with fewer distractions and fewer sensory challenges. We follow the Guilford County Schools traditional calendar.

Christine Joyner Greene Education Center works to ensure that students will have the vocational, social, communication, leisure and daily living skills that are needed for a happy and fulfilling adult life. Research-based instructional strategies give staff the tools to help students learn needed skills, and follow up opportunities are used to practice learned skills in natural settings. Instructional teams use positive behavior supports to manage behavioral challenges by increasing structure and communication tools, with support from colleagues and therapists. We take pride in the team work shared by all school staff, enabling students to develop independence and self-esteem in a positive educational setting.

Download the Christine Joyner Greene Education Center school brochure here! 

Gateway Education Center (Greensboro) is a public separate school that serves students, birth to twenty-two years of age, with severe cognitive, physical, and/or medical disabilities. Education and care include developing and maintaining, with dignity, humanity, and purpose, each student, and their family’s potential in the areas of health, social/emotional, behavioral, vocational, daily living, and academics. The Greensboro Cerebral Palsy Association’s Infant Toddler Early Intervention program, for students birth to 3, is a nonprofit agency housed at Gateway Education Center. This program serves children, 0-3 years, who require, by medical necessity, two of three therapies (speech, physical, occupational), as well as an early intervention academic program for children to meet developmental milestones.


The Preschool Program at Gateway serves three and four year old children. New faces join our classes all through the year as children reach their third birthdays and are placed according to their needs through the Guilford County Schools preschool department with the student’s Individual Education Plan Team. For a student to be placed at Gateway, it must be determined that they would require a placement at a self contained special education school to meet their educational needs. We currently have eight classrooms, 5 serving children with varying types of developmental delays, and 4 serving children on the autistic spectrum.

The school-age program, 5-22 years of age, focuses on the needs of those children with severe cognitive, physical, and or medical disabilities. The program at Gateway also provides monthly parent/caregiver groups, counseling, and workshops.

The Meredith Leigh Haynes-Bennie Lee Education Center (Jamestown) serves approximately 130 students from ages 3 to 22, all of whom have special needs and most of whom are considered medically fragile with significant disabilities. While we use the Extensions of the Common Core Standards, each of our students also has an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Haynes-Inman also offers occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language therapy.

Herbin-Metz Educational Center (Greensboro) serves students who need the most intensive services offered on the education continuum. We serve students in kindergarten through eighth grade who have moderate to severe developmental delays and autism, or who need a highly structured, smaller school environment with fewer distractions and an environment that can be modified to address sensory challenges.

Other Helpful Links & Resources from Guilford County Exceptional Children:

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