At some point during your child's IEP the question, does the child need ESY Services, must be discussed and decided as a team. Just some helpful tips in advocating for ESY.
First, ESY is not Summer school, it is Extended School Year and is intended to continue to give your child a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) if your child shows a need for this service. ESY is not a continuation of the school year. Certain goals will be worked on or skills that need more than just the school year to maintain or develop. Once you decide as a team that your child is eligible of ESY you can can also decide what goals specifically your child will need to work on during that extended time.
ESY is not an Enrichment Program nor should it be used for Compensatory Services. ESY is not provided to students that are not on an IEP.
There is not set guidelines to ESY Services but we do know it's NOT based off the severity of the disability or a disability category. So, saying "he/she isn't severe enough or he/she doesn't have Autism and can't have ESY services because of _____" isn't correct - although far too often I hear these "ESY policies or rules" being said to parents. Another comment I hear often is "your child's not in self contained".
Data supports decisions and data drives services - there should be some data collected before making the team decision for ESY Services. What kind of data? Below are a few questions that you and the team can go through and discuss - these are just a few ideas to get you started advocating if you want ESY services and these can help get the conversation going and team members thinking.
- How is your child after a long weekend/school break?
- Does your child need more time to get back in the swing of things?
- Does your child lose information during those breaks and need to be retaught or constant reminders? Does the schedule change upset your child and does he/she have a hard time because of it (behaviorally, emotionally)?
- Are these goals in your child's IEP that need extra practicing?
- Are there skills your child is learning that are just emerging that would benefit that extended time to help them master those skills or maintain them?
If the team agrees ESY is a need and it doesn't work for your family - vacations, family times, or maybe the change could be more detrimental than the benefit of ESY. A lot of times the classroom is changed, a new teacher, new aides, and even a different school, bus, bus driver ... you can still make YES on the IEP just in case you change your mind then just simply call the ESY department towards the end of the year and let them know. I've had parents tell me they are braking the law by not sending their children or that the school has told them they will go to jail for truancy, ESY is not mandatory. It's a service in place to maintain FAPE for children that need it. You do not HAVE TO send your child.