Preschool Children with Disabilities

On February 29, 2012 OSEP issued a guidance letter confirming that preschool aged children who qualify for special education under the the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are entitled to placement in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).

Preschool aged children are defined as  3 to 5 years old. Eligible preschool aged children are entitled to all the rights and protections guaranteed under the IDEA. These rights include but are not limited to placement in a preschool setting with typically developing peers. The IEP, a written document governed by the IDEA and most state special education laws, must be developed (in writing) and include an explanation to the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children in the regular class.

Before a child with a disability can be placed in a more restrictive environment outside of the general education classroom setting, the IEP team must consider whether supplementary aides and services could be provided that would enable the child to benefit form a general educational setting with non disabled peers.If a public school program is available, the local educational agency (LEA) may choose to offer appropriate placement and services in that program. However, if the LEA (usually the school district or some other public agency) does not offer a public preschool program, the LEA must explore all "alternative methods to ensure that the LRE requirements are met for that child". Some of these methods can include:

1. Enrolling children in preschool programs operated by other public agencies

2. Enrolling preschool children in private preschool programs with non disabled peers

3. Providing for home based services

These services should be provided at no cost to the parents.

The first step in determining eligibility is to notify your LEA in writing requesting an assessment for special education eligibility because you believe your child has a qualifying disability.

This is not intended as legal advice. If you believe you require assistance in obtaining special education services, please contact the Leigh Law Group at 415-399-9155 or [email protected] to set up a free intake.

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