Services Beyond the School Year for Students With IEPs

Some students in special education are eligible for Extended School Year (ESY)

By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute

If your child receives special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), did you know he may be eligible for a program of special education and/or services beyond the normal school year? Such services are commonly referred to as extended school year (ESY) services. Read on to learn how ESY might help your child, the types of services it might include, and how his Individualized Education Program (IEP) team would determine if he’s eligible.

What Are Extended School Year (ESY) Services?

ESY services are individualized special education and/or related services (such as speech/language therapy or occupational therapy) that are uniquely designed to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student with disabilities (as mandated by IDEA). Need for ESY services are determined by the student’s IEP team. ESY services are provided beyond the normal school year of a school district — that includes both the days of the school year and the hours of the school day. ESY services must be provided at no cost to the parents. It’s important to understand that ESY services are not the same as:

  • summer school
  • compensatory services
  • enrichment programs

ESY services are not limited to the summer break. While this is generally the longest break from the normal school year, ESY services may be needed during shorter breaks (such as winter and spring holiday breaks) of one or two weeks in length. ESY services can even be an extension of the student’s normal school day, such as a special tutoring program.

ESY services are not necessarily a continuation of the student’s entire special education program. Some students may need only certain instruction and/or related services (such as reading instruction or speech/language therapy) outside of the normal school year.

IDEA Regulations and Extended School Year Services

The IDEA regulations define “extended school year services” as special education and related services that:

Are provided to a child with a disability…

  • Beyond the normal school year of the public agency (typically the school district);
  • In accordance with a child’s IEP;
  • At no cost to the parents of the child; and
  • Meet the standards of the State Educational Agency.

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