April 2021
By: Sandi Rosenbaum and Marion Walsh, Esq., Littman Krooks LLP

Parents of students starting kindergarten in the fall may want to keep their child in the preschool program they attend, rather than having them transition to kindergarten. This is especially true for children with disabilities, who have birthdays in November and December. It makes sense that a student with a disability may not appear ready for kindergarten when compared to typically developing same-aged peers. Compounding this disadvantage, parents of typical students often keep their child back a year so that their child will be turning 6 upon entering kindergarten or shortly after.

New York Law Does Not Allow Flexibility on Aging Out of Preschool Services

Unfortunately, while New York Education Law provides flexibility with regard to when a parent of a child without identified disabilities may enroll their child in kindergarten, this flexibility does not apply to publicly funded preschool services, whether public Pre-K or special education services. Under New York State Education Law, addressing special education programs, a “preschool child" means a child with a disability who is eligible for special education services, but who will not have become five years of age on or before December first of the relevant school year, or even a later date if a school district establishes a later cutoff date (some districts use December 31). A child will be deemed a preschool child, and eligible for special education services as such, through August prior to the school year in which the child first becomes eligible to attend kindergarten.
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