“ESY: There is no One Size Fits All”
Caitlin E. McAndrews, Esq
Extended School Year services, or ESY services, are provided by School Districts over school holidays (generally the summer months) to eligible students with disabilities in order to prevent severe regression. If your child experiences severe skill regression in the summer months such that she cannot catch up when the school year resumes, she may be eligible for ESY services.
Some parents turn down a School District offer of ESY services, though, because they disagree with the format of services offered. Sometimes, Districts will only offer parents a “one-size-fits-all” summer program. The federal regulations specifically prohibit Districts from limiting ESY services to one type, duration, or amount. Yet many parents incorrectly believe that their only option is the one the District presents to them.
Furthermore, some Districts’ ESY programs focus only on academics. School Districts have an obligation to provide those ESY services necessary for a child to receive a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) and prevent regression in all domains, including academics, communication, social, emotional, and behavioral development.
Parents who do not believe their District’s standard ESY program will prevent regression in all areas of a student’s need should come prepared to their IEP meeting to discuss why they feel the program is inappropriate for their children. Parents should also consider looking into alternatives to propose at the meeting. Try to be cooperative, but firm, in stating that the services offered will not meet your child’s needs and prevent skill loss. This advocacy could make a great beneficial impact in a child’s education.