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Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

Extended School Year Services (ESY): What is it and is my child entitled to it?

What is Extended School Year Services (“ESY”)?

ESY are special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the 180-day school year for school-age students. Not all students with disabilities are eligible for ESY. While students with Individualized Education Plans (IEPs) are eligible for ESY, students with Section 504 Plans are not eligible.  For those students with IEPs, ESY must be provided to students if it is necessary to provide them with a free appropriate public education (FAPE). 

For students living in Pennsylvania, ESY can take place during:

  • Early Intervention (EI) (birth – school age). ESY will take place during breaks during the school year.
  • School Age (5/6-21). ESY will take place during the summer.
  • Graduation (age 21). ESY will be discussed before the student graduates to determine if they require ESY the summer after they turn 21.

If a student is eligible, ESY must be provided not only by your local school district but also by your child’s charter school and/or cyber school. A school district cannot limit the type, duration, or amount of ESY, nor can it limit ESY to certain kinds of disabilities. It is also important to note that ESY is not a recreational camp, summer camp, daycare, respite services, or an alternative educational program. 

What kind of services can ESY provide?

As with all IEP team decisions, the ESY components of the IEP must be individualized to meet your child’s specific needs. They include special education (specially designed instruction) and related services, such as speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, social skills instruction, or counseling.

When will my child’s school discuss ESY with me?

Although parents have the right to discuss ESY services at any IEP meeting, there are certain timelines that Pennsylvania requires school districts to abide by.

If your child has a severe disability (Autism/pervasive developmental disorder; Serious emotional disturbance; Severe intellectual disability; Degenerative impairments with mental involvement; Severe multiple disabilities), then the IEP team must meet no later than February 28 to discuss your child’s ESY eligibility. After the meeting, a Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) must be sent to you no later than March 31 with the team’s ESY eligibility determination.  If your child does not have a severe disability, there are no strict timelines for determining ESY eligibility. However, ESY determinations must still be made in a “timely manner” in accordance with the requirements in the Pennsylvania Code.

TIP: If you do not agree with the school district’s ESY decision, you can request an informal meeting to discuss, request IEP facilitation, file for mediation, or file for Due Process with Pennsylvania’s Office of Dispute Resolution. If you do end up filing a due process complaint, due process hearings in Pennsylvania are expedited so the issue can be resolved before the expected start of ESY services.

 How can my child qualify for ESY?

Your child’s IEP team is required to make an ESY determination on an individual basis, taking into consideration 7 different factors; however, no single factor should be considered determinative. 

The 7 factors include:

  1. Regression: Whether your child reverts to a lower level of functioning as evidenced by a measurable decrease in skills or behaviors that occurs as a result of an interruption in educational programming.
  2. Recoupment: Whether your child has the capacity to recover the skills or behavior patterns in which regression occurred to a level demonstrated prior to the interruption of educational programming.
  3. Regression/Recoupment: Whether your child’s difficulties with regression and recoupment make it unlikely that the student will maintain the skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives.
  4. Mastery: The extent to which your child has mastered and consolidated an important skill or behavior at the point when educational programming would be interrupted.
  5. Self-sufficiency and independence: The extent to which a skill or behavior is particularly crucial for the student to meet the IEP goals of self-sufficiency and independence from caretakers.
  6. Successive interruptions: The extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming result in your child’s withdrawal from the learning process.
  7. Severity of disability: Whether your child’s disability is severe (such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, emotional disturbance, severe Intellectual Disability, degenerative impairments with mental involvement and severe multiple disabilities).

When evaluating these seven factors, your IEP team is required to take into consideration reliable sources of information regarding your child’s educational needs, including progress toward annual IEP goals, reports from educators, therapists, and related service providers who have contact with your child, parental input, medical or other agency reports from your child’s service providers, observations of all team members who have knowledge of your child, and results of tests such as criterion-referenced test, curriculum-based assessments, and life skills tests.

TIP: Make sure the IEP team discusses the 7 factors with you. Ask for progress monitoring reports the school district has collected before and after your child has had a break (winter, spring, summer, sick days, etc.) and data that has been taken to track your child’s progress on their IEP goals. This data will help the IEP team determine whether your child has regressed in their skills or behaviors over the breaks, which will help you determine whether ESY is needed during the summer break.

What are the steps I should be taking?

  1. Gather information about your child’s progress (or lack of progress)
  2. Go through the 7 factors at the IEP meeting to determine eligibility for ESY services
  3. Make sure the IEP team documents the ESY determination on the IEP
  4. Wait for the school to issue you a NOREP or request one if they have not


How Can We Help?

Obtaining the above services and support for your child can be daunting. The law firm of Raffaele & Associates is dedicated to serving the legal needs of students, children, and families. Our trusted team of attorneys, education consultants, and staff provide skilled, thoughtful representation for your case.

We have experience helping families like yours through various interventions, such as:

  • Assessing which services would be most appropriate for your child
  • Working with you and your school to draft the best plan for your child
  • Ensuring that your school is fulfilling all of its obligations based on current plans in place

If you would like to get in touch with us, please contact us here. We look forward to speaking with you.

The information within this article is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Please consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your personal situation.


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