Placement of Kindergarten Age-Eligible Children in Early Childhood Programs Operated by Schools or ESU's
What if a kindergarten age child qualifies for special education services and the IEP team determines that the early childhood program is the appropriate placement for the child?
All children in Nebraska, including children with disabilities, are entitled to attend kindergarten when they meet the age eligibility requirement. Kindergarten is intended to be a program for 5-year-olds, and schools have a responsibility to support the learning of all children in the kindergarten program. All children of mandatory school attendance age (6 years old by January 1) are expected and entitled to attend kindergarten. For some children, this may require the school district to provide additional supports and services in the kindergarten setting, as required by law. The supports and services necessary for successful participation and progress of a child with a disability in the kindergarten classroom must be determined by each child’s IEP team. In most cases, the IEP team will determine that it is appropriate for the child to attend kindergarten with same-age peers, and to receive special education and related services within the kindergarten setting. This ensures access to the kindergarten curriculum and equity of opportunity to actively participate in learning with typically developing peers. The school district is responsible for providing appropriate resources to successfully support children with diverse learning abilities in the kindergarten program.
In a few cases, the child’s IEP or IFSP team may determine that the child’s needs can only be met in an early childhood education program. However, placement of a kindergarten age child who qualifies for special education services in an early childhood education program is NOT allowable if the IEP team decision is due to lack of appropriate kindergarten services and supports or based on the desire to “red-shirt” or delay school entrance of a kindergarten age child.
What if parents choose to delay their child’s entrance to kindergarten and want their child to continue another year in the early childhood program?
By definition, the early childhood program serves children from birth to kindergarten entrance age. Schools have the responsibility to meet the learning needs of kindergarten children as they come to school. Schools also have the right to determine the grade level placement of children at the time of enrollment. Parents have the right to make their decision about when to enroll their child based on what they believe is best for their child and what options are available to them. It is not the intent of Rule 11 for school- or ESU-operated early childhood programs to provide extra-year services. If a school or ESU offers kindergarten as part of a multiage early childhood-kindergarten program, it is the intent of Rule 11 that the kindergarten-age children who are enrolled move on to the next age/grade level with their same-age peers the following year.
If you have questions, please contact the following:
Melody Hobson at 402-471-0263 or firstname.lastname@example.org