Shocking Truths

Shocking Truths

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Shocking Truths About Extended School Year Services
Are you happy your child will be getting ESY services this summer?  
OR does the District say ​​your child doesn’t qualify for ESY?


Is he/she getting what the District typically offers everyone that gets Extended School Year services? Did you know that these services are supposed to be individualized? What if your child needs more than 4 weeks of services this summer? What if your child needs services in August before school starts?


We’ll be answering these questions and more. And you’ll also learn some shocking truths about ESY…

  • Let’s get into our first shocking truth about Extended School Year (ESY) services. Extended School Year services is not mentioned in the IDEA law. Say what? How can that be? Yes, it’s true. ESY isn’t mentioned in the law, but it’s in the IDEA Regulations.

This week on Facebook some parents posted specific questions about ESY and we’re going to answer those today. First, let’s just give a quick background about ESY.

March is the time of year when many IEP teams meet to talk about ESY services. Sometimes this is a short, matter of fact meeting and parents may not feel like they have much input into the decision.


Some students on IEPs require special education and related services longer than the regular school year in order to receive an appropriate education.


These are known as Extended School Year (ESY) services.


Besides knowing what the federal regulations say about ESY, you’ll also want to know what your state regulations say. Remember the federal regulations set the minimum amount of services, your state regulations have to meet those minimum requirements. Some states may give your child even more than the minimum required services.


We had several parents that asked about the criteria used to determine if a student is eligible for ESY services.


One parent posted this comment, “My son doesn’t qualify. I’m not sure how he would or the criteria. This year he doesn’t. Maybe, next year they say.”


In order to answer her question, let’s look at what the federal regulations say (remember, I’m not an attorney and can’t give you legal advice):

  1. Each school district must ensure that extended year services are available as necessary to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education.
  2. ESY services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.
  3. A school district may not limit ESY services to particular categories of disability.
  4. Districts also cannot unilaterally, limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.
  5. The federal regulation’s definition of ESY states it means special education and related services that are provided beyond the normal school year, in accordance with the IEP, at no cost to parents, and it meets the standards of the State Education Agency.

If you’d like the exact wording of the federal Extended School Year regulations, hit reply and I will get them to you.

  • Now, you may have figured out another Shocking Truth about ESY services. There is no wording in the federal regulations that say what the specific criteria is for determining if a child is eligible for them or not.

You may say, what? I’ve always heard the District say ESY is determined by regression and recoupment – what do you mean that’s not in the language of the federal regulations?


There have been court cases that have talked about regression and recoupment and many states have used that language in their state regulations. That’s why it’s important to know what your state regulations say about ESY.


So, Tonya’s question about ESY criteria depends on the state she lives in.


Most states have regression and recoupment factors for IEP Teams to use to determine who is eligible for ESY, let’s look at what regression and recoupment means.


Regression is the decline in a student’s knowledge or skills that result from interruption in education. Teachers need to be taking data to show if after a vacation or long break in school the student loses some of his skills he had before the break from school. Parents also need to be observing their child to see how vacations from school effect their child.


The second part of the factor is recoupment. This means the amount of time it takes to regain their skills they had before the break from school. The student would regress to such an extent and the amount of time required to relearn a skill or behavior becomes so significant that the student would be unable to benefit from his or her special education.


Many students that aren’t on IEPs will forget some skills they learned before a vacation or break. However, they can usually pick those skills back up in a relatively short amount of time.


When students on IEPs loose skills and take a longer time to regain them, they could be a candidate for ESY services. Remember, it is an IEP Team decision and you need to be part of the discussion and the decision.


Because of different court cases, many states also include other factors to consider whether or not a child qualifies for ESY. Here are some of those other factors:

  • Emerging skills: Is the student just starting to learn a skill and the IEP team believes that with ESY services the student would make reasonable gains.
  • Nature and severity of the child’s disability: The impact of some students’ disabilities may require continuous services year-round, and not just during the typical school calendar. But remember the federal regulations say, a school district may not limit ESY services to particular categories of disability. So, don’t let the IEP team say your child doesn’t have a severe disability and therefore doesn’t qualify for ESY services.
  • Idaho also considers a Self-Sufficiency factor: if an interruption in services would threaten the acquisition of critical life skills that aid in the student’s ability to function as independently as possible, thereby continuing the student’s reliance on caretakers, including institutionalized care. Some examples given in the Idaho State Manual include: toileting, feeding, mobility, communication, dressing, self-help, and social/emotional functioning.
  • In Colorado’s ESY Guidelines, another factor considered is, if the student will have opportunities to interact with peers without disabilities during extended breaks that will assist the child to avoid significant jeopardy to learned skills.

That’s why it’s important for you to know what your specific state guidelines are. If you would like help finding your state guidelines, reply to this post and I’ll connect with you.

One parent said, “I feel like her teachers will say she doesn’t qualify/isn’t “behind” enough. But I’m of the mindset – the more help the better!”


Most states don’t consider how far “behind” a student is. Most states determine if ESY is necessary to help students maintain the skills they already have.

Another parent asked: “I have been needing to find this out for my 8yr old on an IEP. How do you qualify? What days, times, location, how many weeks? Do they understand days missed for vacations?”


ESY services need to be individualized, just like services and supports are during the school year. Districts should not be telling parents, this is what we offer. Some students will need services throughout a school vacation, not just for the times the District has decided to offer them. Some students may need less or more time that what the District is offering.


Another parent said her District doesn’t even offer any ESY services. It would be difficult to believe that no student with an IEP in a school district doesn’t qualify for Extended School Year services.

  • Here is another Shocking Truth about ESY services. ESY services do not only have to happen during summer vacation. “What? Really? That’s all our District offers.” This is when we come back to ESY services are to provided to ensure your child has a Free Appropriate Public Education. Some students may need ESY services over the Christmas or winter break. Some schools are year round and will have several 3-4 week breaks throughout the year. Some students may need ESY during those breaks.

One parent said, “ I am asking for another parent. If a child has been determined to need an outside placement in a specialized school can the school district stop paying their portion of the specialized school during the summer when the student shows regression? I believe the school may have offered their standard 1/2 day four days for 4 weeks ESY program.”


The first thing to do is look up the state regulations in whichever state the parent lives in. My non-attorney opinion would be the District would have to continue paying for the student’s education during the summer, if the student needs those services to receive FAPE.


Another parent asked, “Does a student have to have below average scores in every subject to qualify or if, per se, the student was low in math, would that be enough to qualify for that subject?”


Great question. One thing you could do is look at your child’s math scores on different types of tests, past history, get input from his teachers, note observations you’ve made. Has he lost math skills after a school break, and how long does it take for him to re-learn those skills?


If you’d like to talk with me further about your individual’s child’s circumstances, give me a call at 208-340-5874.


Next Thursday, March 16th we’re going to have an awesome advocate from Texas join us and share some advocacy strategies on how to get individualized ESY services for your child. So, join us next Thursday night at 7:00pm Mountain Time on my Facebook page:

  • We’ll end with this Shocking Truth: What you Accept, Continues.

If you continue to accept that the staff members on the IEP team says your child doesn’t qualify for ESY services, that will continue to be what happens.

If you continue to accept what the District offers every student for ESY services, that will continue to be all that your child receives.


As an advocate my goal is to have you accept what is right for your child. I’m here to help you have that happen!


If you have questions about the support your child is getting or not getting at school, hit Reply to this email and ask.  I read all my emails and will respond to you. And as always, I’m also available for free 30 minute phone consultation.  Just email me at” target=”_blank” class=”validating” style=”color: rgb(119, 169, 175);”> and we’ll set up a time to talk.


Take care,

Let’s Stay Connected!        208.340.5874

3313 W. Cherry Lane #328
Meridian ID 83642

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