Linda M. Gorczynski, Attorney, Hickman & Lowder Co., L.P.A.
If your child has an IEP, he may be entitled to receive special education or related services in the summer, at the school’s expense. This is called ESY or Extended School Year services and you’ll see it in section 4 of the IEP form.
A student should qualify for ESY IF the IEP team determines that the services are “necessary” in order for the child to receive a Free Appropriate Public Education (“FAPE”). The most traditional way to qualify is if the student has a history of regression after long breaks, as can be seen with behavioral needs. Another common qualifier is if the student is on the cusp of mastering a particular skill (such as reading) and the extended break would curtail that progress. But it all comes back to whether ESY is necessary for THIS particular student to receive a FAPE.
ESY looks different for every child, and it must be tied to a specific goal(s) on the child’s IEP. The school cannot limit the “type, amount or duration” of ESY services. So if you’re told that the house ESY program is the only option, this is not supported by the law. The team needs to find or develop an ESY program that meets the child’s unique needs. Wilson tutoring? Social skills camp? Small group math? The team can get creative to meet the need.
If you think your child may qualify, ask for an IEP team meeting to discuss eligibility. Always put your request in writing so there is a record, and include your reasons for making the request. It takes time to locate or develop an appropriate program, and sometimes there is a dispute as to the child’s eligibility, so you don’t want to wait until the last week of school to start the process.
If you want to read Ohio’s legal guidelines on ESY go to OAC 3301-51-02(G).