Kindergarten birthdate cutoff has many families scrambling - WSMV Channel 4

Kindergarten birthdate cutoff has many families scrambling

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ASHLAND CITY, TN (WSMV) -

The first day of school is right around the corner for many counties, but some students may have to wait to hit the classroom until they are a little bit older.

A new law determining who attends kindergarten has put some families in a tough spot.

Shayla Richardson will turn 5 years old on Sept. 7, but that's a week too late to start kindergarten this year.

"I believe it is going to take her out of her element. She's already learned what she needs to do to move forward to kindergarten, and now to push her back a year, I don't know how that would affect her," said mother Tangela Richardson.

Tangela Richardson isn't the only parent frustrated. The new state law moved the cutoff date up a month to Aug. 31, requiring students to be 5 by that date or be held back a year, and this parent says another year of preschool would be a waste.

"She knows all of her letters. She can count to 30. She knows all of her body parts. She knows how to tie her shoes," Tangela Richardson said.

School officials in Cheatham County and elsewhere say their hands are tied. It all comes down to the law, and Shayla won't be old enough to attend Ashland City Elementary this year.

Plus, they've decided to opt out of testing.

Assessment tests are an exception to the rule. They check if the student is ready intellectually, physically and socially for kindergarten. Metro, Montgomery and Dickson County schools are testing, but most counties aren't.

Pre-K students can also be grandfathered into kindergarten, but pre-K enrollment is determined by the parents' income, which was too high to get Shayla enrolled.

The process has been confusing and frustrating for parents and schools alike, and hasn't left many options.

"Either way, I will be out of my pocket if I have to put her in a private school, so she can go ahead and go to school. I'll be out of pocket if she has to go to daycare," Tangela Richardson said.

For now, Shayla has her immunization shots and continues to study, waiting for the chance to go to school with her big sister.

If you have a child with a birthdate on the cusp of the cutoff date, the best advice is to plan ahead and talk to your school district as soon as possible.

And you should also know there are more changes coming next year, when the cutoff date to turn 5 years old will be moved up to Aug. 15.

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