We recently presented on the topic of Extended School Year Services to a group of parents of children with disabilities. Throughout the presentation we were asked questions by the parents that were a bit unsettling as we thought school districts were adequately informing parents of their rights to a free appropriate public education for their child with disabilities. Questions like, "Should the teacher discuss ESY at every IEP meeting?", "Should I be notified if my child is eligible/ineligible for ESYS?", "How will I know if my child has been considered for ESYS?", "What is the preliminary letter of eligibility/ineligibility?", "What data are used to make the decision of eligibility/ineligibility?", etc.
Decisions surrounding the eligibility or ineligibility for Extended School Year Services for students with disabilities are based on specific guidelines and laws that must be followed.
What questions or comments do you have regarding Extended School Year Services? Hopefully, we can help answer your questions and guide you through the process to get the appropriate services for your child or maybe your experiences or comments about your particular situation will help other parents navigate through the ESY process for their child.
Extended School Year (ESY) Services are the provision of special education and related services to students with disabilities beyond the normal school year of the Local Education Agency (LEA). The LEA must utilize specific eligibility criteria to determine the need for extended school year services to ensure the provision of Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Services are provided in accordance with an IEP and at no cost to the parents of the student.
FAPE, according to IDEA, is an educational program that is individualized to a specific child, designed to meet that child's unique needs, provides access to the general curriculum, meets the grade-level standards established by the state, and from which the child receives educational benefit.
ESY criteria are listed on the IEP (sample image below)and should be discussed and selected at each IEP meeting. Often parents are casually informed of the criteria chosen with little discussion, explanation or input. Following is an explanation of what every parent of a disabled child should know to fully understand what ESY criteria is and how documentation is maintained to determine eligibility or ineligibility.
What Are the Criteria?
Regression-Recoupment is considered for all students with significant cognitive disabilities (student is three or more standard deviations below the mean in cognitive functioning and/or adaptive behavior) or functions as a student with significant cognitive disabilities. R/R is also considered for any student for which difficulty in recoupment of critical skills is evident after a break in instruction.
Critical Point of Instruction 1and/or 2 is considered for all students with disabilities, including preschool students. CPI-1 should be considered for students in danger of increasing time in special education and losing time in general education (relating to instruction in their least restrictive environment...LRE). CPI-2 is considered for students pursuing critical life areas such as self-help, community access or social/behavioral skills.
Special Circumstances Criteria include: Employment, Transition to Part B (Preschool), Transition to Post-School Outcomes, Excessive Absences and Extenuating Circumstances.
Employment criterion is considered for students between the ages of 16-21 who are in need of support to maintain paid employment during the summer months.
Transition to Part B criterion is considered for students turning 3 years of age who have spring/summer birthdays transitioning from Early Steps (have an IFSP) to Part B.
Transition to Post School Outcomes criterion is considered for students who have transition plans and are expected to exit school at the end of the school year.
Excessive Absences criterion is considered for students with documented absences during the school year of more than 25 days for health related conditions without the provision of hospital/homebound services.
Extenuating Circumstances criterion is considered when a student does not meet the criteria for ESYS in any of the above categories, but the teacher/instruction personnel determine a break in instruction would negatively impact or cause the student to lose skills that will restrict the student's ability to function as independently as possible.
How to determine eligibility? Who determines eligibility? What data are needed to determine eligibility?
Instructional personnel make a preliminary decision of eligibility/ineligibility based on collected data and are REQUIRED to inform parents of their decision and include how they made that decision. Parents can then agree or disagree with the decision and are afforded an opportunity to offer their own observations/data in support of their view of eligibility/ineligibility. The district must consider the parent's information as an equal participant of the IEP team.
ESY criteria considerations are discussed at EVERY IEP meeting and ESY-IEPs can be written after January 1st once sufficient data has been collected and applied to the appropriate criteria/criterion to make an informed decision. Students can be determined eligible/ineligible for:
Regression/Recoupment when at least two data points in the two weeks before a break of at least five instructional days is compared to at least two data points in the two weeks following the break for the same skill across two breaks. Did the student regress on a critical skill and not recoup?
Critical Point of Instruction-1 when there is evidence a student is in danger of increasing time in special education and losing time in general education and ESY is likely to prevent that from happening. Are there data to show the district is considering moving the student to a more restrictive environment? Are there data to show the district has reconvened IEP, tried RTI, considered accommodations, modifications to IEP, etc.?
Critical Point of Instruction-2 when the student has self-help, community access or social/behavioral skills on the IEP and performance data (checklists, graphs, work samples....progress monitoring tool) indicates the student is making significant progress toward acquisition, fluency, maintenance, and/or generalization on a critical life skill.
Special Circumstances/Employment when a student has IEP goals and action steps targeted for transition in the area of employment and job performance data (how is this measured on IEP?) document the need for support to maintain paid employment.
Special Circumstances/Transition from Early Steps to Preschool when a student has performance data from the Individualized Family Services Plan (IFSP)....(be sure to ask for this when leaving Early Steps) to determine the student had past problems losing or maintaining critical skills.
Special Circumstances/Transition to Post School Outcomes when there are incomplete action steps and corresponding goals that are the responsibility of the LEA. Will these action steps be completed by the end of the school year?
Special Circumstances/Excessive Absences when a review of student records indicate the student has missed more that 25 days of school (excused absences on medical letterhead) for health-related conditions and performance data indicate lack of projected progress due to these absences (if no hospital/homebound services were provided during any of those days).
Special Circumstances/Extenuating Circumstances when examination of performance data indicates the student did not meet any of the other criteria but shows a break in service would negatively impact or cause the student to lose skills that will restrict the student's ability to function as independently as possible.
Checklist for parents:
Did teacher discuss ESY criteria at every IEP meeting?
Parent asks why criterion/criteria were/were not considered?
Did teacher discuss how data would be collected?
Parent asks to see data?
Did parent receive letter of Ineligibility with supporting data to show ineligibility? or letter of eligibility inviting them to attend ESY-IEP meeting?