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Have you heard of extended school year services, but aren’t sure what they are or what qualifies a student with special needs for them? We’ve got answers for you.
If you have a child with an IEP and you’re curious about extended school year services, here’s the deal: You might be able to get Extended School Year services for your child, or you might not. The term extended school year services (ESY) is a part of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, specifically, Sec.300.106. This section was added to ensure that students who forget a great deal of what they learn over the long summer break are provided with continuing instruction. The legal definition of extended school year services states that the term refers to special education and related services that are provided to a child with a disability, beyond the normal school year of the public agency, in accordance with the child’s IEP and at no cost to the parents of the child, and that meet the standards of SEA (state educational agency).
ESY services are not provided all summer long. Usually, such services are made available four to five weeks of the summer, meeting four to five hours per day; often, they’re provided Monday through Thursday. The teacher may or may not be a child’s normal school year teacher, but he or she is required to be qualified to teach special education and should understand the child’s IEP program goals.
Qualifying for Extended School Year Services
As with many parts of IDEA, this particular section was added following a series of court cases in which the parents of a child with a disability claimed that their child would forget most of what he or she learned over the long summer break and take most of the next school year to re-acquire previously-learned skills. These cases were won by the parents and, as a result, this section was added to the law. However, not all students have a right to this service. Regulations state that, to qualify, a child with a disability must lose two-thirds of the skills they learned during the school year (usually based upon progress toward IEP goals), and take between six and nine weeks of the next school year to regain those skills. A number of students forget some of the skills they learn during the summer months; however, most do not lose as much as two thirds, regardless of disability.
There are problems with this part of the law, in that it was added in a revision/reauthorization of an existing legislation. Thus, public school districts do not receive funding to provide a full-blown summer program for all students with disabilities, and providing summer services is an added cost to these districts. Some states provide partial funding for these services, while other states provide only the funding for a normal school year. Therefore, local districts stay close to the “letter of the law.” That means that each year, each individual IEP team must consider whether or not the child needs ESY services, and designate one of three instructions regarding ESY: yes, no or delayed decision. If the IEP is marked yes in this area, then these services will be provided based upon the recommendations of the IEP Team.
Typically, the students who receive ESY services are those with more severe disabilities, and are often served in self-contained programs; students with less pronounced disabilities are least likely to be selected as needing these services. As stated, each IEP team should carefully consider a student’s needs and make a data-based decision. Parents should ask about ESY services during the annual IEP meeting if they believe their child needs them.
Getting Extended School Year Services for Your Child
With summer upon us, this is your last chance to gain ESY services for this year. Start by attempting to contact your child’s special education teacher or the case manager of your IEP team. If they are still working, they will let you know what steps to take. If they have gone home for the summer, then you should call your district special education office and talk with the administrator in charge.
Remember that the key to qualifying for ESY services is having forgotten, or being unable to utilize roughly two-thirds of what was learned in a school year. Then, a student must take more than six to nine weeks to recover those lost skills. If your student forgets that much and takes that long to recover, he or she will benefit from ESY services.
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