Understanding Extended School Years

Share your love
Spread the love


IEP Help Understanding Extended School Year (ESY)

There is often much confusion surrounding ESY. Part of this can be attributed to the lack of guidance provided in IDEA which originally left the definition of ESY wide open for interpretation. Through the years, this has been narrowed down by the circuit courts but each state’s department of education has their own guidelines.This, as well as misinformation surrounding the purpose of ESY, has created confusion for parents and educators alike.

Common Misconceptions About the Purpose of ESY

  1. ESY is summer school for children with special needs.
    • Although ESY programs are mostly provided in the summer, the S in ESY does not stand for summer. ESY stands for Extended School Year and may be provided at anytime of the year, based upon the length of the breaks from school and the needs of the child.
  2. ESY will get my child caught up with his peers.
    • ESY is not a credit recovering program or an alternative to retention.
  3. ESY is only for children with severe disabilities.
    • ESY must be considered for any child on an IEP based upon their individual needs. The severity of a child’s disability may impact the IEP team’s decision regarding eligibility for ESY but no single factor should be used to determine ESY eligibility.
  4. Services such as speech, behavioral, or OT services are not available during ESY.
    • If the child is receiving additional services as part of the IEP, then these must be included in the discussion regarding ESY eligibility.

Common Factors Used for Determining the Need for ESY

  1. Regression and Recoupment
  2. Emerging Skills (Window of Opportunity)
  3. Nature/Severity of disability
  4. Degree of Progress towards IEP goals and objectives
  5. Interfering Behavior
  6. Special Circumstances

No single factor/criterion can be used to determine the need for ESY. Parents are often told that their child doesn’t qualify for ESY because the child doesn’t show regression over extended vacations. If this happens to you, first request proof that the district has collected data to prove that your child doesn’t regress. If the district has collected data that shows your child doesn’t show regression then you will need to have the team consider other factors that may apply. This is where you will need to advocate for your child and make certain your concerns are addressed. If you feel that the IEP team is not hearing your concerns and addressing them, you should consult with a special education advocate. Depending upon your specific situation, the advocate may be able to provide you with information to help you work with the team or they may advise having a special education advocate at the next IEP meeting. Either way, you will want to make sure that the notes capture the discussion about ESY.

One helpful way to direct discussions around the need for ESY is to focus on a Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) for the child. For example, say your child takes two weeks to recoup a learned skill after extended time off from school. This is two weeks that the child is not receiving FAPE because access to their curriculum is now delayed due to them having to relearn the lost skill. This idea of FAPE can be applied to any of the common factors to ensure that an adequate discussion takes place surrounding ESY.

Preparing for the ESY Discussion

Timing is of the essence. Do not wait until the end of the school year to discuss your child’s need for ESY. If needed, request an additional IEP meeting to discuss your child’s eligibility for ESY services. Find out from the teacher, how data is being collected to show if there is regression. Ask to see this data. Inquire if regression is the only consideration for ESY by the district. If the teacher says regression is the only consideration, you will have some work to do with the district and may want to consider getting a special education advocate to help you.

Learn about ESY guidelines for your district and your state. Ask your special education department and/or school board for a copy of their guidelines regarding ESY. If there are other parents who have similar concerns, request that the special education director does a presentation for parents regarding ESY. Check out your state’s website to find ESY guidelines as they pertain to your specific state.

Prepare for the IEP meeting. Develop a list of the factors that should be considered for your child. Write down your concerns and prepare to talk about them. Do you see a change in behaviors at home after a long break? Does your child come home from school exhausted and/or frustrated for the first couple of weeks? Is your child just beginning to learn how to read (an emerging skill) after struggling for years? Is your child progressing on her IEP goals but at a slower rate than anticipated? Are there other factors that you feel may qualify your child for ESY?

Additional Help for ESY

If you feel that your child qualifies for ESY but you are being denied ESY services by your district, be sure to voice your concerns and have it documented in the notes. You also have the right to document it next to your signature by writing a statement that you disagree with the FAPE offer and that you believe your child qualifies for ESY services. Make sure you receive a copy of the IEP with the notes and signature page so that you can share this IEP with an advocate. They will be able to review the IEP and see if the team provided data to support their denial. They will then be able to advise you how to proceed.

ESY presents its own challenges for districts and parents alike since the states often have different guidelines. If you are uncertain about any aspects of your child’s IEP program, it is a good idea to have a special education advocate review the IEP. An advocate can put your mind at ease or provide guidance on how to get additional services that your child qualifies for.

Spread the love
Share your love