Has there been official word about making kindergarten mandatory and the cut-off birth date for admission? I heard there have been some changes in admissions rules this year.
There have been questions and confusion about this issue since last summer when the governor signed into law a bill authorizing New York City to "require minors who are five years of age on or before December first to attend kindergarten instruction."
The city has not yet acted to make kindergarten compulsory, but it has clarified that the cut-off birth date is still Dec. 31, not Dec. 1. While I can't say this is official, it is close.
In an email to one of our colleagues, Gentian Falstrom, director of elementary school enrollment at the Department of Education, writes:
"The cut-off date for kindergarten admissions is not changing. Parents
may choose to keep their children out of kindergarten, but the DOE will
provide a seat to all families seeking to enroll for kindergarten, as we
have in the past. All students turning 5 by December 31 will continue to
be enrolled in kindergarten and all students turning 6 will continue to
be enrolled in first grade. The same rules apply to general education
Further evidence: The DOE issued a proposed set of revisions to the Chancellor's A-101 regulation that governs admissions but there is no change in the required age to start school. The regulation stipulates that "Children are required to attend school from age six through the end of the school year in which they turn 17" and children who turn five "within the calendar year of admission must be admitted to kindergarten."
However, there are some other proposed admissions changes that parents should know about, including several that change priority rankings when applying to kindergarten and pre-kindergarten. One controversial change is that siblings of enrolled students no longer get first priority in admissions when applying to gifted programs. And students with disabilities will no longer get preference over others who have siblings attending a school. Students applying to kindergarten at the same school where they attend pre-kindergarten are now on the priority list but they don't get first dibs. The regulation also clarifies admission to schools where the zoning has changed.
One very positive proposed change is that bullying, harassment, and intimidation are now grounds for a safety transfer from one school to another.
And, interestingly, the very last revision of A-101 includes a waiver giving the chancellor the right to waive any provision in the regulation! It reads: "This regulation or any portion thereof may be waived by the Chancellor or his designee if it is determined to be in the best interests of the school system."
The Panel for Educational Policy will be voting on admissions revisions on Dec. 20. If you are passionate about any of these issues, be sure to testify at the meeting or send comments beforehand.
And, to sort this out further, see the proposed revisions on the DOE website.