LAREDO, TEXAS (KGNS) -- School is about to start for the coming school year, but not all children will be accepted. Parents who are planning on enrolling their child in Pre-K will first have to check if their child qualifies to enter the programs at both Laredo or United ISD.
The first day of school is just a few weeks away, but before you go out to buy school supplies you'll want to make sure your young child is accepted into the program. We spoke with Laredo and United ISD representatives who nearly finish each others sentences when it comes to explaining the requirements for Pre-K. As they explain it, there are several state requirements in order for a child to be accepted into the public Pre-K system. The first is for the child to be four years old by September the first of the current year. Laredo ISD's Early Childhood Dean Brenda Sepulveda explains, "the requirement that is made by the state is that they have to be educationally disadvantaged which means they qualify for free or reduced lunch. If they don't qualify through those means, they can qualify through bilingual which means that they do not comprehend or speak the English language." In addition to that, United ISD's Bilingual Department Director Carmen Pompa expands on the requirements, "the fourth one is if the child has ever been homeless. The fifth one, if the child is the son or daughter of an active or deceased member of the armed forces."
They will also accept children who have been in foster care. So there is a chance your child may not make the cut. They explain that the state mandates this as a way to close anticipated educational gaps. Pompa shares her perspective, "These children are already coming to our school system already a little behind, and what we want do is try to catch them up." Sepulveda adds, "That's the reason why the state does allow for the school districts to offer free pre-k to these children because of that gap that we see."
Another concern some have is whether the child's immigration status will pose a problem. Sepulveda says, "By law, we cannot deny education to a child." Pompa similarly declares, "At UISD we educate all children, we are not immigration."
The difference between both districts is that Laredo ISD also offers Pre-K for three year olds, but that's limited to those who live within the district lines. While the Pre-K requirements may be numerous, keep in mind that the only requirement for a child to be accepted into the kinder program is that the child be five years old by September first of that school year.
Enrollment for the Pre-K programs at Laredo ISD ends August 21st. At United ISD enrollments continues, but if your corresponding school is already full, you might get referred to a neighboring school.