by Theresa Kraft, Esq.
When developing an IEP for a student with disabilities, the IEP team must consider whether the student’s special education needs can be met during the traditional school year. If the child requires an extended day or an extended year in order to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE), then the school district is required to provide the student with programming. Generally, this is referred to as Extended School Year Services (ESY).
ESY can take any form that will ensure FAPE and should not be dependent upon the school district’s schedule, services, availability of personnel, etc. – in other words ESY, like the IEP, should be based on the child’s individual needs and not the convenience of the school district.
The IEPs used by many NH school district’s include a section to consider ESY, but it is not uncommon for that section to contain language indicating that the decision regarding the need for ESY will be determined by a specific date. April seems to be the month to discuss ESY. Regardless of whether the discussion is taking place when the IEP is first developed or at a later date, the discussion is part of the IEP process and therefore must take place within a team meeting. At the IEP meeting that discusses ESY, the team should consider the student’s needs for ESY, including degrees of progress, emerging skills, regression over breaks, length of time to recoup skills lost over breaks, the nature or severity of the disability, interfering behaviors, as well as any other factors the team determines appropriate in consideration of whether FAPE will be provided.
ESY is not a one size fits all program. ESY is not reserved for only specific categories of students with disabilities. ESY is not an enrichment program. ESY is not determined by administration based on NECAP, NWEA, DRA, or any other acronym’s scores. ESY does not have to take place in a school setting. As with all IEP discussions, ESY discussions should be based on the student’s needs and a focus on how those needs will be met.
When preparing for the IEP team meeting to discuss ESY, consider:
- The student’s progress during the traditional school year
- The type of programming the student receives and best practices for that type of programming
- The need for consistency in schedule
- The ability to focus more intensely on skills to foster emerging skills
- The need for social interaction in a structured and supported setting
For more information regarding a ESY, see NH DOE Memo 44.
This post can be found on Attorney Kraft’s website as well.