Moving to Kindergarten
Special Education for Children Entering Kindergarten
The DOE will work with you to consider whether your child needs special education in Kindergarten, and if so, develop an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is called the "Turning 5" process, and your participation is important.
The Turning Five process starts with a referral. This process will depend on whether your child already has a preschool IEP.
If your child has a preschool IEP
- The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) will refer your child for an evaluation for school-aged special education.
If your child does not have a preschool IEP
- You may submit a written referral.
- The Department of Education (DOE) may also make a referral and notify you.
Receive Notice of Referral
After we receive a referral, we will send you a blue Notice of Referral between December and August. This notice confirms that an IEP team will consider your child’s need for a kindergarten IEP. Next, you will be contacted by a CST representative who will work with you throughout this entire process. Your child’s IEP meeting will likely take place at that school or office. Keep in mind that having an IEP meeting at a school does not mean that your child will be admitted there.
Before the IEP meeting, the DOE may conduct assessments of your child. These assessments may include observation of your child in his or her current preschool classroom. The IEP team will also review your child’s file, including evaluations and progress reports from your child’s teachers and related service providers. This will help the team determine what new assessments, if any, will be needed.
You will receive a letter informing you if new assessments are needed. If they are, we will also ask for your consent to conduct the assessments. If new assessments are done, you will receive copies of the reports before the IEP meeting.
If you would like the IEP team to consider any other assessment reports or documents, you should provide them to the IEP team, and they will consider them.
You may need to give your DOE representative completed medical forms if you think your child may need:
- Health services
- Specialized Transportation (Special Education Bus Service) due to a medical need or mobility limitation.
Please provide medical forms as early as possible so the IEP team can review the forms before the IEP meeting. You may also need to give updated medical forms to the DOE before school starts in September.
Kindergarten IEP Meeting
You will get a letter with the date, time, and location of your child’s IEP meeting at least five days before the meeting. At this meeting, the IEP team will determine whether your child is eligible for special education in kindergarten. If so, the IEP team (including you) will develop an IEP for kindergarten.
Who should attend the IEP meeting?
You, the parent, or guardian, are a very important member of the IEP team. Other participants (in person or over the phone) may include:
- Your child’s teacher(s) and/or related service provider(s);
- A school psychologist; and
- Others with knowledge about your child or who have special expertise.
Most IEP meetings will be held at a child’s zoned elementary school, if they have one. If the DOE representative leading the meeting does not work at your zoned elementary school, the DOE may also invite a professional from the zoned school. If your child has received an offer to another school for kindergarten, let your DOE representative know before the meeting; a professional from the school your child will attend may be invited.
Help and Support
If you want a ‘parent member’ (a parent of another child who has had an IEP) or a doctor to attend the meeting, let your DOE representative know at least 72 hours before the meeting.
If you speak a language other than English, let your DOE representative know if you will need an interpreter at the IEP meeting. If so, the DOE will provide one.
At the IEP meeting, the IEP team will first discuss whether your child is eligible for school-age special education. To be eligible, your child must meet the criteria for one of 13 disability classifications. The disability classification will be listed on your child’s IEP. This is different than for preschool special education. In preschool, every child with an IEP is classified as a “Preschool Student with a Disability” on the IEP.
If your child has a preschool IEP but the IEP team finds that they are not eligible for special education in kindergarten, your child will be “declassified.” They will go to a general education class for kindergarten. The team may also recommend “declassification support services” for your child’s first year without special education. These services may include:
- Instructional support;
- Accommodations; or
- Related services (such as speech therapy or counseling).
If your child is eligible for school-age special education, the IEP team will create an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child. The IEP will include information about your child’s strengths, interests, and unique needs. The IEP team will also set goals based on your child’s abilities and needs. The IEP team will describe what skills your child will work on in kindergarten. The team will then decide what supports and services your child will need to reach those goals. After the IEP meeting, a copy of the IEP will be given to you, or mailed to you within two weeks.