Enrolling in Public School
Enrolling a child in an Arkansas public school is addressed in Arkansas law and in the Arkansas Standards for Accreditation of Arkansas Public Schools.
According to Ark. Code Ann. § 6-18-208, "(a) Before a child's admission to an Arkansas public school, a school district shall request the parent, legal guardian, person having lawful control, or person standing in loco parentis to furnish the child's social security number and shall inform the parent, legal guardian, person having lawful control of the child, or person standing in loco parentis that, in the alternative, the parent, legal guardian, person having lawful control of the child, or person standing in loco parentis may request that the school district assign the child a nine-digit number designated by the Department of Education. (b) Before a child's admission to Arkansas public school, the parent, legal guardian, person having lawful control of the child, or person standing in loco parentis shall provide the school district with one (1) of the following documents indicating the child's age: (1) A birth certificate; (2) A statement by the local registrar or a county recorder certifying the child's date of birth; (3) An attested baptismal certificate; (4) A passport; (5) An affidavit of the date and place of birth by the child's parent, legal guardian, person having lawful control of the child, or person standing in loco parentis; (6) Previous school records; or (7) A United States military identification."
Parents and guardians are encouraged to contact their local school district superintendent's office for specific information concerning required enrollment documents.
Kindergarten Enrollment Age
Children may enter kindergarten in an Arkansas public school if they will attain the age of five (5) years on or before August 1 of the year in which they are seeking initial enrollment.
A child moving from another state may enter kindergarten upon written request to the school district if the child:
- Has been enrolled in a state-accredited or state-approved kindergarten program in another state for at least sixty (60) days;
- Will become five (5) years old during the year in which he or she is enrolled in kindergarten, and
- Meets the basic residency requirement for school attendance.
A parent, guardian, or other person residing within the state and having custody or charge of a child may elect for the child not to attend kindergarten if the child will not be six (6) years of age on August 1 of that school year. If an election is made, the parent, guardian, or other person having custody or charge of the child shall file a signed kindergarten waiver form with the local school district administrative office. Upon the filing of the kindergarten waiver form, the child shall not be required to attend kindergarten in that school year.
Kindergarten Waiver and SPED Services
COM-09-185 (05-28-2009) states "Effective immediately, a child five (5) years of age identified as having a disability under the IDEA and meets the age requirement for public school kindergarten enrollment, but the parent/guardian has filed a signed kindergarten waiver form with the local district administrative office [consistent with Arkansas Code Annotated 6-18-201(a)(1)(A) and (B)], or has opted under provisions of Act 29 of the Regular Session of 2009 to not enroll an eligible child in kindergarten, may continue to receive special education and related services as set forth in the child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) through age five (5). However, upon turning six (6) years of age, the child will no longer be eligible to receive special education and related services supported with IDEA Section 619 preschool funds."
Prior to the child’s sixth birthday, Local Education Agencies (LEAs) will participate in transition conferences arranged in collaboration with Early Childhood Coordinators to determine school-age eligibility. If the child is eligible for special education services and the parent chooses to enroll the child in kindergarten for the coming fall, services should not be interrupted. If the parent signs a Kindergarten waiver form and does not enroll the child in kindergarten, the child would be considered the same as a student in a private school or home school. Even though the child will no longer be eligible to receive special education and related services supported with IDEA Section 619 preschool funds, Early Childhood Coordinators and LEAs may consider other funding sources to ensure eligible children continue to receive necessary special education and related services.
Preparing for Kindergarten
Starting school is a big step. Make sure that step is in the right direction by helping children acquire the skills they need to be successful. The Arkansas School Readiness Committee has identified 38 indicators that will help get a child's educational experiences off to a good start. This is simply a list of skills that will give you, as a parent or guardian, a place to begin in preparing your child for entering kindergarten. Studies have shown being ready to learn means a child will have a head start that will last a lifetime.
Children entering school with a range of skills and knowledge tend to be more successful in school. While mastery of any or all of the skills identified here is not required for admission to kindergarten, the indicators can be used to help your children enter kindergarten with confidence.