Kindergarten-Age Policy Leaves One Family Behind
Flora Brookfield says she moved her family to Brookline because of the early exemption policy that was recently removed.
A recent change in Brookline's kindergarten-age policy has at least one new resident questioning the timing of the decision.
Under the schools' current policy, children who reach the age of 5 on or before Aug. 31 are eligible to enroll in kindergarten. In November, Brookline school officials removed an early entrance exception that also extended kindergarten enrollment to children born between Sept. 1 and Oct. 15 if they completed a lengthy procedure that included testing and interviews.
Flora Brookfield, a mom who moved with her husband and two daughters to Brookline from New York City in August, said she was frustrated with the timing of the change, arguing that it should have been altered before the start of the school year or grandfathered in.
“That’s my biggest problem with the decision,” she said. “It effectively gave families no time whatsoever to take it into their planning.”
Superintendent Bill Lupini, though, felt the school officials acted within a sensible timeframe.
“We did it early in the year,” he said. “We did it Nov. 15. If we couldn’t, in our mind, it wouldn’t be fair to parents.”
Lupini did not recall any discussion of grandfathering the change in.
The kindergarten cutoff date in New York City is Dec. 31, so when Brookfield husband received a new job at a Massachusetts university, they scoured each school district in the state to find one that would allow their youngest daughter, who misses the Aug. 31 deadline by 12 days, to enroll next fall. If not, she would have to attend three years of preschool and be three grade levels from her older sister.
The parents found two other school districts, but they liked the Brookline school system the best although it only permitted an exemption after passing a lengthy procedure. The decision was made to move to Brookline.
Two weeks ago, Brookfield went online to the Brookline school website to register her youngest daughter for kindergarten. To her surprise, the exemption was not there.
“Had we known that Brookline didn’t have the policy, [my daughters and I] would have stayed in New York City,” said Brookfield.
But Lupini argued that there was no guarantee that any child who applied under the old exemption would get in. The superintendent said the schools need to make the change needed because of recent growth in the number of kindergarten-age students enrolling in Brookline schools, and because more parents were appealing the evaluations. Since 2002, 76 students have entered kindergarten early under the old policy.
“I’m sorry that anybody was put in a difficult position because of the policy,” the superintendent said.