Yes. The IDEA requirements regarding the education of children in the “least restrictive environment” (LRE) apply to preschool children with disabilities. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.116(a)(2).] The district must provide a program with non-disabled peers if a child’s IEP team determines that this is appropriate. However, if the district has no preschool program for children without disabilities, there is no federal requirement to establish district-wide preschool programs. Courts have not made a distinction between school-age and preschool age when addressing the requirement that children with disabilities be educated in the company of children without disabilities. [L.B. and J.B. v. Nebo School District (10th Cir. 2004) 379 F.3d 966.]
Where there are no established programs for preschoolers without disabilities, the LRE requirement could be met by alternative means. For example, your child may attend (full- or part-time) a preschool program serving children without disabilities (such as Head Start). Your child may instead attend a preschool program for children with disabilities located on a school site serving nondisabled, school-aged children. Lastly, the district may pay for placement in a private preschool and provide supplemental services. [Cal. Ed. Code Secs. 56441.4 & 56443(a); see OSEP Letter, January 9, 2017; https://www2.ed.gov/policy/speced/guid/idea/memosdcltrs/preschool-lre-dcl-1-10-17.pdf.]]
Your child’s need for an integrated preschool program or inclusion in a regular preschool must be established in her IEP. See Chapter 7, Information on Least Restrictive Environment.