Special Education

Suspension and Expulsion of Preschool Children

July 2015


To: Executive Directors of Approved Special Education Preschool Programs Directors, Prekindergarten Programs Directors, Nonpublic Nursery Schools and Kindergartens Chairpersons, Committees on Special Education
From: James P. DeLorenzo, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Special Education
Renee Rider, Assistant Commissioner, Office of Student Support Services
Subject: Suspension and Expulsion of Preschool Children

The purpose of this memorandum is to provide important information regarding federal and State policy to limit and eliminate practices of suspension and expulsion of preschool children; to ensure that a child’s early learning experiences build a positive early foundation to nurture learning and development; and to ensure that challenging behaviors exhibited by preschool children are addressed in the context of a comprehensive approach to behavior support that is designed to teach, nurture and encourage positive social behaviors.

In December 2014, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Department of Education released a joint policy statement on expulsion and suspension policies in early childhood settings. The policy statement brought to light the problematic issue of expulsion and suspension practices in early childhood settings1 and provided recommendations for preventing, severely limiting and ultimately eliminating expulsion and suspension practices in programs that provide early care and education to young children. A copy of this document can be found at http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/policy-statement-ece-expulsions-suspensions.pdf.External link

1 Early childhood settings, for purposes of this policy, refer to any program that provides early care and education to young children, ages 3-5, including but not limited to private child care, Head Start, public, private and faith-based Pre-K/preschool programs, and preschool special education programs.

In discussion with the Board of Regents at their May 2015 meeting, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) committed to take steps to reduce and severely limit expulsion and suspension practices, with the ultimate goal of eliminating these practices in all early childhood settings by the 2017-2018 school year. In addition, NYSED will review and, as appropriate, revise its statewide policies and guidance regarding suspension and expulsion of preschool children from early childhood programs, including special education programs. A copy of the Regents Report and supplemental presentation may be found at the following websites:
http://www.regents.nysed.gov/common/regents/files/meetings/May%202015/515p12d3.pdfPDF (194 KB)

.PDF (271 KB)

All regular and special education early childhood programs are urged to review their school’s practices and take steps to ensure that high-quality behavioral and social- emotional supports are in place to prevent suspensions and expulsions of preschool children. Programs should minimally ensure that:

  • teachers use developmentally appropriate, culturally and linguistically responsive practices and evidence-based curricula aligned with the New York State Prekindergarten Foundation for the Common Core Learning Standards https://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/common_core_standards/pdfdocs/nyslsprek.pdf PDF (271 KB)
  • children have access to comprehensive services and individual accommodations and supports;
  • discipline policies comply with applicable federal civil rights laws and procedural safeguards under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) for all preschool children with disabilities;
  • programs collect and analyze data on suspensions and expulsions and set goals to limit or prohibit such disciplinary actions;
  • staff receive professional development on social-emotional and behavioral development; and
  • programs establish school-wide and tiered supports to address challenging behaviors.

Resources for Technical Assistance
In addition to resources for technical assistance and information provided in the federal joint policy memorandum (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/school-discipline/policy-statement-ece-expulsions-suspensions.pdf),External link the following resources are available for New York State early childhood and special education providers of preschool students.

http://qualitystarsny.org/External link

Early Childhood Direction Centers

Regional Special Education Technical Assistance Support Centers
Preschool Behavior Specialists


Response to Intervention (RtI) Technical Assistance Center
http://www.nysrti.org/External link
Recognition and Response
See Webinar Strand 4 at http://www.nysrti.org/page/past-webinars/External link
See Presentations at http://www.nysrti.org/page/preschool/External link

Regional RtI Professional Development Teams
These teams will provide regional professional development on Recognition and Response programs
http://www.mi-schoolservices.com/#!rti/c8wExternal link
http://www.rti4success.org/new-yorkExternal link

If you have any questions regarding this memorandum, contact the NYSED Office of Special Education at (518) 473-2878 or the Office of Early Learning at (518) 474-5807.

NOTE: The full text for this memo is available from the PDF version: 

Last Updated: October 6, 2015