Step 5: Transition from Preschool Special Education to Kindergarten

An important goal of the preschool special education program is to prepare a child to enter and succeed in kindergarten. Children enter kindergarten in September of the calendar year when they turn five years old. Children who will be entering kindergarten in September will begin the transition process during the previous school year. The process includes the following steps: 

  1. Kindergarten Orientation Meetings: In the fall of the year before your child will enter kindergarten, the Department of Education (DOE) will send you a mailing inviting you to attend Kindergarten Orientation Meetings. At these meetings, located at sites across all five boroughs, the DOE will provide information about the transition to kindergarten for families of students with disabilities. 
  2. Notice of Referral: In the winter of the year before your child will enter kindergarten, the DOE will send you a notice that the CPSE has referred your child to your district’s Committee on Special Education (CSE) for school-aged children. The notice will give you the contact information for the DOE representative who will oversee your child’s transition. Usually the DOE representative is a psychologist or social worker at a local school or a district CSE office. 
  3. Evaluations: The DOE representative will review your child’s file, including progress reports from your child’s preschool service providers, and then decide whether new assessments are needed. You can submit any information you would like the DOE representative to consider. You can also make a written request to the DOE representative if you want a new evaluation for your child. 
  4. IEP Meeting: The DOE representative will schedule a kindergarten IEP meeting (also called the “Turning 5” meeting). These meetings usually take place between February and May either at a school or a district CSE office. At the meeting, the team will decide whether your child is eligible for kindergarten special education services. If your child is eligible, the team will create an IEP, which includes a classification of your child’s disability and a recommendation for the program and services your child will receive in kindergarten.
  5. Placement: The majority of kindergarten students with IEPs will attend neighborhood (nonspecialized) schools. Therefore, families should participate in the DOE’s Kindergarten Admissions Process for students with and without disabilities. Between December and January of the year before your child will enter kindergarten, you can complete a central application online, over the phone, or at a DOE office. In most districts, your child will receive priority at the school that is zoned for your family’s address and at schools where a sibling attends. In March, the DOE will send you a letter notifying you of your child’s placement offer, and you must then go to that school to register. Once your child is placed at a school through the Kindergarten Admissions Process, that school will be responsible for providing your child with the programs and services on your child’s kindergarten IEP (including a special class or an Integrated Co-Teaching program).
  6. Specialized Schools and Specialized Programs: Your child’s IEP may recommend a specialized District 75 school (for students with severe needs who require greater structure and more intensive support) or a specialized program in a community school, such as bilingual special education programs or the ASD Nest and ASD Horizon programs for students with autism spectrum disorders. If your child’s kindergarten IEP recommends one of these specialized schools or specialized programs, the DOE will send you a placement offer after your child’s kindergarten IEP meeting for a school that has the recommended IEP program. 

Information provided by Advocates for Children of New York

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