Yes. In order for a district to use state special education funding to place a child in a private preschool, the preschool must be certified by the state as a nonpublic school. [Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56034.] However, the district is not prohibited from paying for private preschool placement out of its general funds if there is no appropriate, least restrictive, and certified preschool program available.
It may be necessary to use due process to show that a private preschool is the appropriate, least-restrictive educational program for your child. If you “prevail” at hearing, the district would have to pay for the noncertified preschool program out of its general funds.