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Tomball Independent School District

Pre-K Eligibility

Section 7 Prekindergarten (Pre-K)
7.2Eligibility
To be eligible for enrollment in a pre-K class, a child must be three or four years of age on September 1 of the current school year and must meet one of the following requirements:179
  • be unable to speak and comprehend the English language
  • be educationally disadvantaged180 (eligible to participate in the National School Lunch Program [NSLP]; see 2.3 Pre-K Eligibility Based on Being Educationally Disadvantaged (Eligible for the NSLP) homeless181
  • be the child182 of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserved component of the armed forces, who is ordered to active duty by proper authority
  • be the child183 of a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserved component of the armed forces, who was injured or killed while serving on active duty
  • has ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas DFPS (foster care) following an adversary hearing
  • has been in foster care in another state or territory, if the child resides in this state
  • is the child184 of a person eligible for the Star of Texas Award such as:
    • a peace officer under Texas Government Code, §3106.002
    • a firefighter under Texas Government Code, §3106.003
    • an emergency medical first responder under Texas Government Code, §3106.004
 
A student is eligible for pre-K if the student was eligible to enroll in pre-K but did not attend during the previous school year under the TEC, §29.153(b), and the child has not yet enrolled in kindergarten, or if the child’s parent or guardian elects for the child to repeat pre-K in accordance with the TEC, §28.02124.
Once a student is determined to be eligible for pre-K, the student remains eligible for the remainder of the current school year in the district in which he or she resides or is otherwise entitled to attend for Foundation School Program benefits, with the exception described in 7.2.2 Pre-K Eligibility Based on a Student’s Identification as an English Learner (EL)/Emergent Bilingual (EB).
For example, a student who qualifies for pre-K because the student is eligible to participate in the NSLP (is educationally disadvantaged) is eligible for pre-K the entire school year even if the family’s annual income increases above the subsistence level during the school year.
A district must verify a student’s eligibility for pre-K in order to receive funding in the pre-K program. Districts must have the verification document as well as any required documentation on file for their records.
7.2.1 Pre-K Eligibility and Age
A child who is three years old is eligible for pre-K only if your district operates a three-year-old pre-K program. A child who is eligible and enrolls in a pre-K class at the age of three remains eligible for enrollment in a pre-K class for the following school year. If a child is automatically eligible for a four-year old pre-K program due to being eligible and enrolled in a three-year-old pre-K program, a district should still ensure a child is appropriately coded as economically disadvantaged or identified as an English learner/emergent bilingual. A child who is five years of age on September 1 of the current school year is eligible for enrollment in a pre-K class if the child’s parent or guardian elects for the child to repeat pre-K in accordance with the TEC, §28.02124, or if the child would have been eligible to enroll in pre-K during the previous school year under the TEC, §29.153(b), and the child has not yet enrolled in kindergarten.
Students under five years of age who do not meet eligibility requirements but are still served in the pre-K program should be coded ineligible half day (ADA eligibility code 5). Your district should ensure that serving students who are not eligible for the program does not interfere with serving students who are eligible for the program.
Note: Both three-year-olds and four-year-olds may be served in the same pre-K class.
7.2.2 Pre-K Eligibility Based on a Student’s Identification as an English Learner (EL)/Emergent Bilingual (EB)
Appropriate pre-K staff members determine that a student is eligible for pre-K based on not speaking and comprehending the English language by identifying the child as EL/EB following the process outlined in Section 6 Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL).
Note: As a result of Senate Bill 2066 in the 2021 legislative session, the term “emergent bilingual student” replaced the term of “limited English proficient (LEP) student” used in the TEC, Chapter 29, Subchapter B. The term “English learner (EL),” as used in 19 TAC Chapter 89, Subchapter BB, changes as well. These terms describe the same group of Texas students. These students are in the process of acquiring English and have another language as their primary or home language. As PEIMS is revised to reflect these changes, the terms “emergent bilingual (EB)” and “English learner (EL)” may be bridged as EB/EL, and the data element names may still indicate the use of LEP during the transition. It is important to note that the term English learner is still used in federal regulations and guidance.
If a student who qualifies for pre-K on the basis of identification as an English learner/emergent bilingual, is receiving required services through the bilingual/ESL program, and then moves out of the district, the student would be qualified to attend pre-K in the new district provided that the documentation described in 7.2.2.1 Documentation Required is made available to the new district.185 This requirement also applies to pre-K EL/EB three-year-olds who are promoted to the pre-K EL/EB four­year-old program.
If a student who qualifies for pre-K on the basis of being identified as EL/EB, is not receiving required services through the bilingual/ESL program because of a parental denial, and then moves out of the district, the student remains eligible for pre-K if the student enrolls in the new district provided that the documentation described in 7.2.2.1 Documentation Required is made available to the new district.
Many districts preregister pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year. However, your district must have all the documentation described in 7.2.2.1 Documentation Required on file before claiming a student as eligible for pre-K funding on the basis of the student’s being identified as EL/EB. A child remains eligible for pre-K if the parent denies bilingual/ESL support as long as they maintain the documentation required in 7.2.2.1 Documentation Required. If preregistration has not occurred, starting on the first day of school, a district has up to four calendar weeks186 to complete this documentation. However, as stated before, a district may not claim a student as eligible for pre-K funding until this documentation is on file (see 6.10.1 Home Language Survey Requirements).
7.2.2.1 Documentation Required
If the student is eligible for pre-K based on the identification as an English learner/emergent bilingual, the following documentation must be on file.
  • Home language survey. The home language survey shall be administered in English and the home language. For students of other language groups, the home language survey shall be translated into the home language whenever possible. The survey shall contain the following questions:187
  • “What language is used in the child’s home most of the time?”
  • “What language does the child use most of the time?”
  • Proof that the student's score on the state’s English oral language proficiency test is below the level designated for indicating English proficiency.
  • Documentation of the LPAC’s identification of the student as an English learner/emergent bilingual.
 
7.2.3Pre-K Eligibility Based on Being Educationally Disadvantaged (Eligible for the NSLP)
Any student considered educationally disadvantaged is eligible to receive free pre-K. The TEC, §5.001(4), defines “educationally disadvantaged” as “eligible to participate in the national free or reduced-price lunch program.” If a student is eligible for pre-K because the student is educationally disadvantaged (eligible to participate in the NSLP), your district must verify and document that the student is eligible to participate in the NSLP, either because the student’s family income level meets requirements for participation in the NSLP or because of automatic eligibility for the NSLP.
For a student to qualify for the NSLP, either:
  1. the student is automatically eligible
Children who are automatically eligible for the NSLP under criteria in federal law (42 USC, §1758) include the following:
  • a child who is a member of a household receiving benefits from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, State Medicaid program, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • a child who is enrolled as a participant in Head Start or Even Start
  • a child who is considered a migrant child
  • a child who is considered homeless
  • a child who is considered a runaway
  • a child who is a foster child
 
For exact definitions of the terms used in the previous paragraph and complete information on pre-existing bases for automatic NSLP eligibility, see 42 USC, §1758. For information on appropriate documentation of automatic eligibility, see either the United States (US) Department of Agriculture’s Eligibility Manual for School Meals, available at https://www.fns.usda.gov/eligibility-manual-school-meals, or the Texas Department of Agriculture’s (TDA) NSLP Handbook: Administrator’s Reference Manual, available at
  x. For additional information concerning the NSLP at the state level, contact the TDA.
or
  1.       the  student’s family must provide your school district with current income level documentation showing that the income level meets requirements for the student’s participation in the NSLP.
Many districts pre-register pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Since income level documentation must be current for a student to qualify for pre-K based on eligibility for the NSLP, your district must verify income level documentation on or after April 1 of each school year. When verifying income, districts should correlate the eligible school year with the qualifying NSLP year. Qualifying a student for pre-K on the basis of the student’s meeting the NSLP income eligibility requirements does not automatically qualify the student for the NSLP. To qualify a student for the NSLP, your district must provide documentation to the TDA in accordance with the TDA’s requirements.
If a student qualifies for pre-K on the basis of being eligible to participate in the NSLP, and the student then moves to a new district, the new district should review the previous district’s determination for accuracy. If the new district finds that the determination was accurate, the student does not need to requalify for the pre-K program in the new district. If the new district finds that an error was made, the student must requalify for the pre-K program in the new district.
7.2.4Pre-K Eligibility Based on Homelessness
A student is eligible on the basis of homelessness if your district’s local homeless education liaison identifies the student as homeless, regardless of the residence of the child, of either parent of the child, or of the child’s guardian or other person having lawful control of the child.
As a result of the 86th Texas Legislature, SB 668, relating to data collection, reporting, and notice requirements for certain entities, established a uniform definition of “homeless children and youth” now in alignment with the criteria found in 42 USC, §11434a, within the TEC. The term “homeless child,” as used in the prekindergarten statute, the TEC, §29.153(b)(3), is also defined by 42 USC, §11434a.
Many districts preregister pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.
7.2.5 Pre-K Eligibility Based on a Parent’s Membership in the Armed Forces
The following definitions apply when determining a student’s pre-K eligibility based on the membership of a parent188 in the armed forces:
Those who qualify as a member of the armed forces include:
  • active duty uniformed members (parents or official guardians) of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard who have eligible children residing in Texas
  • activated or mobilized uniformed members of the Texas National Guard (army or air guard), or activated or mobilized members of the reserve components of the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, or Coast Guard who have eligible children residing in Texas
  • uniformed service members who are missing in action (MIA)
 
Also, for purposes of eligibility for enrollment in a pre-K program, a child is considered to be the child of a member of the armed forces if either of the following conditions is met:
  • the child is the biological or adopted child of the member of the armed forces
  • the child is a stepchild of the member of the armed forces
 
If a student qualifies for pre-K on the basis of being a child of an active duty member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserve component of the armed forces, the student remains eligible for enrollment if the child’s parent leaves the armed forces or is no longer on active duty after the student begins a pre-K class.
7.2.5.1 Documentation Required
If the student is eligible for pre-K because the student is the child of a member of the armed forces of the United States, including the state military forces or a reserved component of the armed forces, who is on active duty or has been injured or killed while on active duty, one of the following forms of documentation must be on file:
  •      Documentation that a district employee verified the student’s US DoD photo identification for children of active duty service members. The documentation must include the printed name and signature of the person who verified the identification and the date that it was verified.
o If the student has not been issued such an ID, then documentation must be on file that a district employee verified the military member’s DoD photo identification, or other DoD-issued documentation indicating that the person is an active duty member of the military, and verified documentation showing that the student is a child of the military member. The documentation to be kept on file must include the printed name and signature of the person who verified the DoD and other documentation, the date that it was verified, and a photocopy of the documentation showing that the student is a child of the military member.
Important: Your district should not make a copy of DoD identification.
  •      A statement of service from the installation adjutant general director of human resources for children of active members, mobilized reservists, or members of the Texas National Guard.
This office uses military personnel systems and documentation to verify that the service member is in fact on active duty in Texas or a Texas mobilized reservist. For Texas National Guard members (army or air guard), the Texas National Guard’s Office of the Adjutant General
may provide documentation or an official letter from a commander (at or above the lieutenant colonel or, for the navy, at the commander level) confirming active or mobilized status, which is acceptable documentation.
  • For children of service members who died or were killed, a copy of the death certificate using the service-appropriate DoD form or a DoD form that indicates death as the reason for the separation from service.
o If the DoD form is not available, the family can ask the casualty assistance office of the closest casualty area command in Texas to provide a memorandum signed by the casualty office stating that the service member was killed in action or died while serving.
  • A copy of Purple Heart orders or citation for children of service members, mobilized reservists, or guardsmen who were wounded or injured in combat.
A copy of the line of duty determination documentation for children of service members, mobilized reservists, or guardsmen who were injured while serving active duty but were not wounded or injured in combat.
  • If this documentation is not available, a copy of an official letter from a commander (at or above the lieutenant colonel or, for the navy, at the commander level) that states that the service member was wounded or injured while on active duty is acceptable.
  • A copy of a letter from the US Department of Veterans Affairs indicating that the service member has a service-connected disability and is eligible for disability compensation is also acceptable.
  • Documentation that a service member is MIA for children of service members who are MIA.
  • Many districts preregister pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.
 
7.2.6 Pre-K Eligibility Based on a Child’s Having Been in Foster Care
Students who are in or who have ever been in the conservatorship of the Texas DFPS (that is, in foster care) following an adversary hearing or were in foster care in another state or territory but now reside in Texas are eligible for free pre-K. This includes not only students who are in or who have ever been in DFPS conservatorship but also students who have been adopted or returned to their parents after having been in DFPS conservatorship.
If a student qualifies for pre-K on the basis of having ever been in foster care, the student remains eligible for enrollment after the student begins a pre-K class even if that student is no longer in foster care.
At least annually, the DFPS and Child Protective Services mail verification letters of pre-K eligibility to the parents and caregivers of eligible children. These letters serve as proof of eligibility. However, if a parent
 
or caregiver does not receive this letter, he or she may obtain evidence of a child’s eligibility for pre-K services by contacting a DFPS education specialist. More information about DFPS education specialists can be found at https://tea.texas.gov/FosterCareStudentSuccess/CPS/. The DFPS education specialist will write and sign a letter addressed to the school district attesting to the student’s eligibility for free pre-K based on having been in foster care. The parent or guardian presents this signed letter to the appropriate district personnel.
Many districts preregister pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.
7.2.7Pre-K Eligibility Based on a Parent’s Star of Texas Award
A student is eligible on the basis that his or her parent or guardian has received the Star of Texas Award for peace officers, firefighters, and emergency medical first responders. To be eligible, the parent must have been awarded between 2004 and the current year of the awards ceremony.
7.2.7.1Documentation Required
The Office of the Governor, Criminal Justice Division honors recipients annually in September. The resolution (certificate) awarded to an individual serves as proof of eligibility to enroll these children in free pre-K if they are age eligible. A list of past honorees may be viewed on the Criminal Justice Division—Past Honorees webpage. Honorees may also provide a letter from their local representative as documentation for eligibility. If an individual has a pre-K-aged child and has been nominated but not notified as an honoree prior to the current school year, that individual may make a request that the Early Childhood Education Division determine eligibility based on the nomination submitted for review to the Criminal Justice Division.189
Many districts preregister pre-K students to determine and plan for the size of the next school year’s pre-K program. Districts may begin this process on or after April 1 of each year. Once a child is determined to be eligible, they remain eligible without reverification prior to the next school year.
7.3 Enrollment Procedures
Obtain proof that the student enrolling is three or four years old as of September 1 of the current school year unless the child’s parent or guardian elects for the child to repeat pre-K in accordance with the TEC, §28.02124, or if the child would have been eligible to enroll in pre-K during the previous school year under the TEC, §29.153(b), and the child has not yet enrolled in kindergarten. Any of the following documents is acceptable for proof of identity and age:
  • birth certificate
  • statement of the child’s date of birth issued by the division of the Texas Department of State Health Services responsible for vital statistics for school admission purposes190
  • passport
  • school ID card, records, or report card
  • military ID
  • hospital birth record
  • adoption records
  • church baptismal record
  • any other legal document that establishes identity and age
 
Appropriate pre-K staff members then determine that the student is eligible for pre-K based on one of the seven criteria in 7.2 Eligibility.