Committee on Preschool Special Education

  • The Committee on Preschool Special Education (CPSE) is responsible for identifying preschool students (ages 3-4) with disabilities and arranging for the delivery of special education services to eligible students. A preschool student with a disability is one who, as determined by an individual evaluation, exhibits a significant delay or disorder in one or more functional areas related to cognitive, language and communication, adaptive, social-emotional, or motor development which adversely affects the student’s ability to learn. A broad range of related services and special education programs are available to meet the educational needs of preschool students with disabilities. Preschool students with disabilities are entitled to receive a free appropriate public education in the least restrictive environment.

    The Special Education Process involves five steps:

    1. Initial Referral for Special Education Services
    2. Individualized Evaluation Process
    3. Determining Eligibility
    4. Individualized Education Plan
    5. Annual Review

    1. Initial Referral for Special Education Services: 
    A referral is made to the CPSE when the parent/guardian of a preschool age student and/or professionals involved feel the student may require special education services. The referral must be in writing, directed to the CPSE chairperson, state the student's name and date of birth, the parent's/guardian's name, address, home and work phone numbers. It must also briefly describe the concerns which prompted them to make the referral. A packet of materials will then be sent to the parent/guardian, including a consent for evaluation form, a list of the State approved evaluation sites in Westchester County, and a copy of the Procedural Safeguards Notice.

    The CPSE chairperson is always available to meet personally with the parent/guardian prior to or during the referral/evaluation process in order to answer his/her questions, to assist the parent/guardian in understanding how the CPSE system works, and to help in completing all the paperwork involved. 
    2. Individualized Evaluation Process:  A preschool student can only be evaluated after the student’s parent/guardian has given his/her written consent for the evaluation to occur.  The parent/guardian has the right to choose from among the list of approved evaluators and the site where he/she would like to have his/her child evaluated.  An evaluation is a careful look at what the student can and cannot do. It will help the Committee decide if the student needs special education services. Evaluations are completed only by certified professionals who will explain in detail the results of all their testing. The evaluations will include:

    Social History: The parent/guardian will be asked to provide information about the student’s developmental history (e.g., first words, when he/she first crawled and walked, age of toilet training, etc.) as well as general family information.

    Physical Exam: Required by state law, this is a general assessment of the student’s health, vision and hearing, and immunization record. This information may be gathered from the student’s physician.

    Psychological Evaluation: Administered by a psychologist, these tests help determine the student’s learning potential as well as educational strengths and needs.

    Other: Comprehensive tests to identify the student’s specific needs, such as speech and language, physical and/or occupational therapies, may be administered.

    All testing will be provided at no cost to the parent/guardian.

    The parent/guardian can withdraw his/her consent for the evaluation at any time in the process. Once parental consent is withdrawn, the CPSE process stops.
    3. Determining Eligibility:  Upon completion of the evaluations, a CPSE meeting will be scheduled. The parent/guardian will be notified of the meeting date and time in writing. All initial CPSE meetings are held in the Administration Building on the Fox Lane Campus. The meeting will be attended by the CPSE chairperson; the parent/guardian of the student; at least one regular education teacher of such student (if the student is, or may be, participating in the regular education environment); at least one special education teacher, or where appropriate, at least one special education provider (i.e., related service provider) of such student; a parent member and an appropriately certified or licensed professional from the municipality. Attendance of the appointee of the municipality is not required for a quorum. When a student is transitioning from the Early Intervention System, the student’s Service Coordinator is invited to attend the initial CPSE meeting only if the parent requests this. In addition, the parent/guardian is welcome to invite anyone he/she wishes, who has knowledge of the student or special expertise relating to the student's disability, to attend the meeting with them.

    The purpose of the initial CPSE meeting is to review the student’s evaluations and any other relevant information in order to determine whether the student has an educational disability and is eligible for preschool special education services.

    There are specific guidelines the CPSE must use to assess whether a student is eligible for services. Specifically, the CPSE must determine whether the student demonstrates a significant delay or disorder in one or more of the following five functioning areas:

    - Cognitive (intellectual processing skills)
    - Language and Communication Development
    - Adaptive (self-help skills, eating, toileting, etc.)
    - Social-Emotional Development
    - Motor Development

    Preschool students are not classified according to their disability, as school-age students are. All preschool students are given the same classification: Preschool Student with a Disability.

    Once the determination is made that a preschool student possesses an educational disability and is eligible for special education services, recommendations are made by the CPSE to address the student’s special education needs. When considering program options for a student, the CPSE must consider the least restrictive environment; that is, the setting which is most natural for the preschool-aged student while still meeting his/her needs. The range of programs and services available to preschool students are as follows:

    Related Services: Services can include, but are not limited to speech/language therapy, physical therapy, occupational therapy, counseling, and other related services. These services are delivered in the student’s environment (i.e., preschool or day care, home, etc.) and are provided by a trained professional.

    Special Education Itinerant Teacher (SEIT): A special education teacher will travel to the student (at the student’s preschool or other location) to provide individual or group instruction and/or indirect services in which the special education teacher works with the student’s preschool teacher on a consultant basis to help meet the student’s needs. 

    Special Class in an Integrated Setting (SCIS): This option refers to a special class of no more than 12 preschool students with disabilities which is staffed by at least one special education teacher and one aide or assistant, and which includes non-disabled preschool students. Individual and/or group therapy services are incorporated into the program as needed.

    Special Class: This option refers to a self-contained preschool class offering comprehensive services and delivered by professionals with expertise in special education. A special class can consist of no more than 12 preschool students with disabilities per teacher, plus an aide or assistant (12:1:1). Individual and/or group therapy services, as needed, are incorporated into this program.

    The chairperson schedules an initial CPSE meeting within 30 school days of receipt of the consent for evaluation. All mandated members of the CPSE are invited to attend the meeting. The parent/guardian may invite anyone who has knowledge or special expertise regarding his/her child to attend the meeting.

    The Committee reviews all current evaluations and other relevant information and makes a determination regarding whether the student has an educational disability. If such a disability is found, the CPSE develops an Individualized Educational Program (IEP) which includes recommendations for appropriate special education programs and/or services. Recommendations must take into account the least restrictive environment, the student’s academic/educational needs, the student’s social and physical development and the student’s management needs. This recommendation is then forwarded to the Board of Education and provided in writing to the parent/guardian. The CPSE must arrange for the preschool student with a disability to receive the recommended special education services or programs no later than 30 school days from the date the CPSE made its recommendation. The parent/guardian is required to give written consent before the recommended program can be initiated. If the parent/guardian disagrees with the decision of the Committee, the parent/guardian may exercise due process rights outlined in the Procedural Safeguard Notice and request mediation or an Impartial Hearing.

    If the preschool student has been determined to be ineligible for special education the Committee recommendation shall indicate the reasons the student was found to be ineligible. A copy of the recommendation shall be provided to the parent/guardian.
    4. Individualized Education Plan:   
    As a result of the CPSE meeting, an Individual Education Plan (IEP) is developed and a copy is mailed to the parent/guardian. This is a written document that summarizes the student’s abilities in the five functioning areas and details the exact nature of the special education services recommended for the student, including the type of program recommended, the start date and duration, types of related services and frequency, specialized equipment and/or specialized transportation needs, and the location where services will be provided.

    The CPSE arranges for the provision of all services recommended in the IEP. The service providers involved implement the recommended services. If at any time the student’s parent/guardian or the professionals involved feel changes need to be made in the student’s special education program, they can request that a CPSE meeting be held to address their concerns.
    5. Annual Review:   
    The CPSE must meet at least annually to review the student’s progress and revise the IEP as appropriate. These meetings are generally held from April through June. The CPSE must provide written notification to the parent/guardian of the annual review meeting. These meetings are also held in the Administration Building on the Fox Lane Campus. As a student ages out of the CPSE process, the annual review meetings may be combined with the initial Committee on Special Education (CSE) meeting if the student is expected to continue to require special education services in kindergarten.