Special Education and Regional Center Blog
Helping Parents Navigate the Special Education, the Regional Center, and IHSS program.
In a “Dear Colleague Letter” dated January 9, 2017, the United States Department of Education clarified that preschool children should have access to “inclusive high-quality early childhood programs where they are provided with individual and appropriate supports to enable them to meet high expectorations.”
What does this mean?
It means two things. First, the requirement of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) (see blog post), applies to preschool placements. Meaning, in general, that the district must place your child in a placement that is the least restrictive so that your child can accomplish his or her goals. LRE allows that to the maximum extent appropriate, your child should be placed with non-disabled peers.
Second, many district do not have general education or inclusive preschool options. The district is not required not obligated to create one solely to meet the law’s LRE requirement, However, the district must explore other general education or inclusion options, such as placing a child in another district’s program, HeadStart, community preschool program, or a private preschool.
What happens if the district says that they only have a special day class (SDC) for your child?
The district must explore other general education or inclusive programs. Your preschool aged child is entitled to be educated with general education peers, to the maximum extent possible. Often, preschool aged children have not been placed in school and are a clean slate to try a general education classroom. Meaning, the district can’t say that your child can’t be successful in a general education classroom, because the child has never been in a general education classroom. They are obligated to try the general education placement.
Helping families obtain general education preschool placements in private preschools has been one of the more rewarding outcomes for me personally. All studies show that children do better in general education classrooms, and preschool children have this right too. If you have any questions regarding preschool general education placements, please contact me.