One of the most common questions I hear from parents is, what is extended school year? Extended School Year or ESY is not summer school, but rather it is for children with an Individualized Education Program (IEP) who need additional school days to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and prolonged periods of time off will have a negative impact on them. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) describes extended school year to mean:300.106 Extended school year services.
(1) Each public agency must ensure that extended school year services are available as necessary to provide FAPE, consistent with paragraph (a)(2) of this section.
(2) Extended school year services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, in accordance with 300.320 through 300.324, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.
(3) In implementing the requirements of this section, a public agency may not—
(i) Limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability; or
(ii) Unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.
(b) Definition. As used in this section, the term extended school year services means special education and related services
(1) Are provided to a child with a disability—
(i) Beyond the normal school year of the public agency;
(ii) In accordance with the child’s IEP; and
(iii) At no cost to the parents of the child; and
(2) Meet the standards of the State Educational Authority (SEA).
IDEA does not define how to determine which children will need ESY to be provided FAPE, but it does say that it will be up to each IEP team to determine eligibility and services on an individualized basis. There is however, case law which can help guide the IEP team on ESY eligibility and services:
- The IEP Team must not use one single criteria as a sole qualifying factor;
- The IEP team must review how much regression the child will have during the time away from school. Regression is defined as a decline in knowledge and skills that can result in a disruption in education;
- The IEP Team must review how long the recoupment period would be after the time away from school. Recoupment is defined as the amount of time it will take to regain the prior levels of functioning;
- The IEP team must review whether the child has any new or emerging skills that might be lost during a prolonged time away from school;
- The IEP team must review whether benefits gained during regular school year will be significantly jeopardized during a prolonged time away from school. These benefits could include academics, behavior, life skills and other special circumstances or factors;
- The IEP Team must review the degree of the child’s disability; and
- The IEP team must review the ability of the parent’s to provide structure at home.
It is important to note that ESY also extends to Related Services in the child’s IEP. Thus, if a child is eligible for ESY they may also receive related services during ESY.