Many parents have questions about Extended School Year (ESY) services. If you have
questions about a legal issue, you need to do your own legal research. This is especially true for extended school year because courts in different states and federal circuits have issued decisions that create different standards, and the standards for ESY have changed quickly.
If you have a disagreement or dispute with the school about Extended School Year (ESY) services, you need to get a copy of your state's standards for ESY. You also need to learn how to negotiate with school staff so you can resolve the problem and protect your relationships with school personnel.
Should Your Child's IEP Include Extended Year Services (ESY)? Some children with disabilities require special education and related services longer than the usual school year in order to receive FAPE. Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and/or related services provided beyond the usual school year.
ESY, Regression, and Responding to "Misinformation" from School Administrators by Sue Whitney, Wrightslaw Research Editor. ESY is a team decision, not a unilateral decision by the school. ESY can be used to recoup regression, or to catch your child up to where he should be, or for any other reason the team decides.
Overcoming Roadblocks to Extended School Year Services. Find out how Christine learned about her state regulations for ESY, then used these regulations to navigate around roadblocks and successfully negotiate with the school for ESY services.
How I Got Extended School Year (ESY) Services After the School Said "No!" When we attended our child's ESY Meeting, we were told that he did not qualify for Extended School Year services because he did not meet the "regression-recoupment criteria". We were not advised of any other criteria that may be used to determine if a child is eligible for ESY. But I didn't stop there.
Summer's Over - and our ESY Services Never Happened! History tends to repeat itself. Since the school did not provide OT and PT services this summer, you and the school need a backup plan if these problems occur again.
Making Up Missed Services. Missed sessions or interrupted services could constitute a denial a FAPE. If the missed therapy sessions will not be made up before end of school year, you may need to request ESY.
Danny Lawyer is a young child with autism. At age six, he had expressive language and phonological processing problems. The experts who evaluated and treated Danny advised his parents that his ability to be self-sufficient and independent later in life would depend on his ability to communicate.
During the summer, Danny regressed in his ability to communicate. His behavior deteriorated. His school district refused to provide any speech language therapy during the summer months - and refused to reimburse his parents for the services they purchased for their son.
The parents retained Pete Wright and requested a special education due process hearing - and prevailed. The school district appealed. The Review Officer overturned the Hearing Officer's decision. The case was appealed to Federal Court.
After reviewing the record and hearing new testimony, Judge Spencer concluded, "Regression is not the only factor" in deciding if a child needs ESY services. The judge listed several additional factors that IEP teams should consider in making ESY decisions:
In Lawyer, Judge Spencer discussed regression and recoupment.
He also discussed the need to take advantage of "windows of opportunity" in educating children with disabilities:
"Danny's regression in the summer, coupled with nominal recoupment, severely limits the educational benefits he receives from instruction during the school year. His rate of progress is minimized by the interplay of continuous regression and recoupment."
"Moreover, Danny's behavioral problems are compounded by his severe language deficit. His inability to effectively communicate triggers unacceptable behavior. Therefore, it is critical that Danny be provided with continuous speech and communication services."
"Finally, the evidence provided by expert witnesses indicates that for children who suffer from moderate to severe childhood autism, there is a small, but vital, window of opportunity in which they can effectively learn. Such period is generally between the ages of five and eight years old . . . The Court concludes that it is extremely important that at this critical stage of development, Danny receive uninterrupted speech language therapy." Read the decision in Lawyer v. Chesterfield.
v. Fountain (D. MD 1994), a
federal court addressed the school districts "hostility to
also found that, in this district, administrative convenience took precedence
over providing FAPE to children with disabilities. Educational decisions
were not individualized according to the needs of the child.
1. Regression and recoupment - is the child likely to lose critical skills or fail to recover these skills within in a reasonable time;
2. Degree of progress toward IEP goals and objectives;
3. Emerging skills/breakthrough opportunities - Will a lengthy summer break cause significant problems for a child who is learning a key skill, like reading;
4. Interfering Behavior - does the childs behavior interfere with his or her ability to benefit from special education;
5. Nature and/or severity of disability;
6. Special circumstances that interfere with childs ability to benefit from special education.
Citing Pete's case, Florence County School District Four v. Shannon Carter, the District Court found that:
"In any contest between systematic efficiency and the provision of FAPE to a disabled child, Congress and the Supreme Court have made it clear that the child must prevail."
"Window of Opportunity" Evidence: J.H. ex rel. J.D. v. Henrico County School Board, 326 F.3d 560 (4th Cir. 2003)
"ESY Services are only necessary to a FAPE when the benefits a disabled child gains during a regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if he is not provided with an educational program during the summer months." Id. at 538. In MM, we carefully emphasized that, under this standard, "the mere fact of likely regression is not a sufficient basis, because all students, disabled or not, may regress to some extent during lengthy breaks from school. Id."
[Later, in the same opinion, in the Order to Remand to the Hearing Officer]
Last updated: 03/21/11