Extended School Year Services for Children with Special Needs
In support of their right to a free, appropriate public education, students with special needs may be eligible for Extended School Year (ESY) services. Such services, which may be summer-long or periodic, seek to avoid a decline in the child’s skills during the months when school is not in session.
ESY services differ from summer school, remedial classes, or enrichment programs and not all children with special needs are eligible for them. Eligibility is determined on an individual basis by the child’s Committee on Special Education (CSE), of which parents are key members.
In establishing eligibility, the CSE focuses on critical skills that have been identified in the child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), with an emphasis on avoiding regression and maintaining readiness for the following school year. Decisions are based on multiple criteria, both qualitative and quantitative. Such services may be delivered in a variety of environments, including the home, school, or larger community.
Confusion is rife concerning ESY services, with policies differing from state to state. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), however, does stipulate the following:
- ESY services are required if the child’s CSE determines, in accordance with the child’s IEP, that such services are necessary for the child to receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE);
- ESY services may not be limited to specific disabilities; and
- Public agencies may not “unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration” of such services.
Parents should thoroughly familiarize themselves with their state’s regulations and be prepared to advocate on behalf of their child.
Although policies differ throughout the country, factors which you and the rest of the IEP team may want to consider are:
- loss of key skills during summer months,
- window of opportunity for acquiring emerging skills,
- rate of progress,
- related behavioral and physical issues,
- accessibility of other resources,
- educational goals requiring continuous attention,
- severity of disability.
If you believe that your child requires ESY services, do not hesitate to request a meeting with your CSE. Be prepared and vocal at the meeting—you are your child’s best advocate. And remember that Littman Krooks has many years of experience negotiating appropriate educational services for our clients–whether at CSE meetings, impartial hearings, or through a State Complaint.