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We had an IEP for a 6-year-old child who had not yet attended kindergarten. The child was found eligible for special education services, and we held an IEP meeting. During the meeting, it was determined by all professionals on the team that the child should be enrolled in kindergarten with an aid, despite his age. The parents were not given an IEP report but were told to come in to school the next day to enroll the child in kindergarten. Parents were given an IEP the next day, but it did not mention grade placement. Subsequently, the parents were told that the child could not be enrolled in kindergarten because he was 6 years old and had to enroll in first grade, regardless of his “special circumstances”.

I’m wondering… is there a way the school can change the determination of the IEP without the parents, without breaking the law? And is there any precedent in past cases of a 6 year old being placed in kindergarten rather than 1st grade?

First, generally, the issue of promotion and grade level placement is not automatically viewed as an IEP issue by most school districts. You should check your state’s laws to see if it addresses minimum/maximum ages for participation in kindergarten and enrollment in first grade. Sometimes, this issue is addressed in district policy, rather than state law. If this is the case, the IEP more clearly supercedes any limiting policy. In your situation, the problem is further complicated because the staff apparently supported placement in kindergarten, but the person writing the IEP document didn’t write that in it.

Although it is legally permissible to change any IEP outside of the IEP meeting, this can only be done in writing and with mutual consent of the parents and the school staff. However, because the grade level issue was not written into the IEP, the school administration will likely take the position that it is an administrative issue and wasn’t even addressed in the IEP. It would be helpful for you if the participating staff is willing to confirm that they agreed that the child should be in kindergarten, but it may be difficult to get that documented in writing. In all likelihood, the parents will need knowledgeable legal help to assess the situation and determine their legal position. In either event, getting documentation of what the team actually agreed to, versus what was written subsequently, would be very important.

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