Transition to Kindergarten
My son is going to kindergarten this fall and the school district wants to place him in a resource room for most of the day. Ryan has been successfully included in a preschool program, and I want him to be in a regular kindergarten classroom. How can I ask the district to change its proposal?
You should have received the proposed Individualized Education Program (IEP) for Ryan, including an “LRE (Least Restrictive Environment) Statement” indicating where he will spend his day. You should also have received a “Prior Written Notice” (what the district is proposing and why) and a “Parent Consent/Object” form, which allows you to agree or disagree with the proposed IEP. If you agree with the proposed services, but not the location or length of time outside the regular classroom, you can check the box stating that you agree with some but not all of the proposed IEP. This form has to be returned within 14 calendar days of receiving the IEP. The district must then schedule a “conciliation conference,” which is a meeting with you to help iron out the issues.
It helps to have information about how well your child did in the inclusive preschool classroom. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) defines “least restrictive environment” as an educational setting that provides an appropriate program, including necessary supports, in as typical a school environment as possible. These decisions are made by the IEP team based on the child’s needs, and the IEP has to explain why and when the child will be educated or participate in activities outside of the regular education setting.
You could ask these questions:
- Why is this setting being proposed?
- Why can’t services be delivered in the regular classroom?
- How will he be included in regular education to the maximum extent? For more information on how to resolve a disagreement with the school district, visit PACER.org/disputeresolution and download the handout that details your options to resolve at PACER.org/parent/php/php-a25.pdf .
I think my son would benefit from a full-day kindergarten program, but my district only offers a halfday program. There is an optional program for the extra half day, but parents have to pay for it. I can’t afford the fee. How can I get my district to pay for the extra half day?
In order for the district to agree to pay for the extra half-day program, the IEP team would need to determine that the additional program was necessary in order for your child to make progress on his IEP goals and in the kindergarten curriculum. Special education is specially designed instruction provided at no cost to parents to meet the unique needs of a child with a disability. This instruction is intended to help a child make progress in the general education curriculum. In the case of a school district which only offers a half-day kindergarten program at no cost to parents, the district is not obligated to pay the cost of the additional half-day.
My child is on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and will start kindergarten next year. Does she have to go through the Early Childhood Screening required for all children in Minnesota prior to attending kindergarten?
As long as the evaluation that determined your daughter was eligible for early childhood special education services included a vision and hearing screening and a height and weight assessment, she will not have to complete the preschool screening. If you are unsure if this occurred, you may want to check with your IEP case manager to determine if these assessments were included in that evaluation.
I am considering enrolling my daughter in a charter school for kindergarten. She is on an IEP. Does the charter school have to provide special education services?
Charter schools are public schools, so they must comply with state and federal special education laws. Like all public schools, they must have a system to evaluate children and determine eligibility for special education services, and they must provide those services. The charter school can either accept your daughter’s current IEP or do its own evaluation and write a new IEP. In the latter case, it would have to provide the services noted in the IEP or propose comparable services to which you agree. These services would be in effect until the evaluation is completed, a new IEP is written, and you have signed an agreement.
My son turns 5 this summer. The early childhood special education (ECSE) professionals on his Individualized Education Program (IEP) team are proposing that he go to kindergarten in the fall. I do not feel he is ready and would like him to remain in ECSE for another year. What are my options?
Under Minnesota law, all children who are age 5 by September are eligible for kindergarten. The mandatory school attendance age is 7. Therefore, you have the right to hold your child back from kindergarten for another year. However, if the school district has proposed an IEP that can meet his special education needs and provide a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) within a kindergarten program, then it has met its legal obligation to provide services to your child. It is not obligated to keep him in ECSE for another year.
You have three options:
- Allow your child to attend kindergarten as the team proposes, making sure the IEP addresses his strengths and needs and provides any supports and services he may need in order to succeed there.
- Decline special education services and delay kindergarten enrollment for another year. Like many parents who choose this option, you may wish to enroll your child in a preschool program at your own expense for a year. Once your son is in kindergarten, you have the right to request that he be re-evaluated to see if he qualifies for special education services.
- Use the conciliation and mediation process to disagree with the proposal and voice your concerns about the appropriateness of the placement.
Remember, your child does not need to be academically ready for kindergarten in order to succeed. His IEP should support his unique learning and development needs and help him make progress in the kindergarten curriculum.