The Turning 5 Process
A child graduating from pre-school is always an exciting time – it’s a big milestone and maybe the first time you’ll get to see your child in a cap and gown! For parents of students with special needs, this excitement can be mixed with confusion by the “Turning 5” process - the time during which the Committee on Pre-School Special Education (“CPSE”) refers students who are entering Kindergarten to their local, school-aged Committee on Special Education (“CSE”). This new process can often be overwhelming for parents, but it doesn’t have to be! Educating yourself and staying organized will help make the transition from pre-school to Kindergarten as smooth as possible. Some helpful information, particularly for New York City parents:
- If you have not already, you should be receiving letters notifying you that the CPSE has alerted the CSE that your child may need special education services for the upcoming school year, and who at the CSE will be assigned as the District Representative for your child’s IEP meeting.
- In NYC, for the 2018-2019 school year, these letters may come on a yellow or blue sheet of paper.
- TIP: These may look like form letters sent to every parent in your district, but it’s important to keep them, and the envelopes they’ve arrived in. Once the district sends you this letter, it kicks off a timeline for creating an IEP and recommending a school placement.
- Beginning now, and continuing through May or June, the District Representative may contact you about conducting new evaluations, or observing your child in his or her pre-school. They will need your written consent to perform these evaluations. Keep in mind, if you have any evaluations of your child that you want the CSE to consider, you should provide the CSE with copies.
- TIP: If it’s not immediately clear what evaluations the district wants to complete, you can – and should – ask. If there are any evaluations you think your child needs, you should let the District Representative know.
- TIP: As with everything, keep a copy of the consent form after you have signed it.
- Beginning in February, and continuing through the summer, your child’s school district will be conducting IEP meetings for the current school year. Before attending the IEP meeting, make sure you have copies of, and have read, any progress reports your child’s teachers and providers have submitted to the school district. If you’re undecided on what school or program you would like your child to attend next year, now is the time to speak to their teachers, get their input, and begin planning.
TIP: At the IEP meeting, make sure to let the district know what services you think your child needs – whether it’s continuing the services they received in pre-school, or something entirely new. You should also let the team know if you disagree with anything they are recommending. Do not assume the district will offer everything they can, or everything your child needs – if something is missing, or you have any questions, speak up! You are one of, if not the, MOST important member of your child’s IEP team – your input is crucial. After all, who knows your child better than you?
- TIP: At the IEP meeting, make sure to let the district know what services you think your child needs – whether it’s continuing the services they received in pre-school, or something entirely new. You should also let the team know if you disagree with anything they are recommending. Do not assume the district will offer everything they can, or everything your child needs – if something is missing, or you have any questions, speak up! You are one of, if not the, MOST important member of your child’s IEP team – your input is crucial. After all, who knows your child better than you?
- TIP: If you disagree with the district’s recommendations, make sure to keep detailed notes from the IEP meeting about your discussions.
- After the IEP meeting, you will receive a copy of the IEP, a Prior Written Notice letter and, in NYC, a school placement letter (likely called a School Location Letter). Read all of these documents carefully – they will tell you what services your child is recommended for and why, and what school you child is being recommended to attend.
- TIP: if you live in NYC and your child is recommended for a “District 75” or “Specialized School”, he or she may be assigned to a school other than those your applied to as part of the Kindergarten application process. If your child is recommended for a “Community School” or “School Non-Specialized,” they will, in most instances, be recommended to attend the same school you registered for.
- Finally, visit the proposed school and, if possible, have a professional (who currently works with or has worked with your child previously) come with you. When you visit the school, you want to make sure they can provide all the services your child is recommended for and can meet all of their needs.
- TIP: if you have concerns about the placement recommended by your district, make sure to take notes on what your concerns were the day of your visit.
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