Select a button to change the background color on this page.
PA ED LAW CENTER
ELC-PA, 801 Arch Street, Suite 610
Philadelphia, PA 19107
ELC-PA, 1901 Law & Finance Bldg.,
429 Fourth Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Extended School Year (ESY) Programs
Last year, under pressure from the Education Law Center and the
federal Office of Special Education Programs, the State's ESY regulations
were substantially amended. Some of the most important
changes/clarifications were that:
ESY is not limited to children with "severe" disabilities
(although these children are most likely to qualify).
A child can qualify because of a "regression/recoupment"
problem, or because of "other factors" that make it unlikely that the
student, "will attain or maintain skills and behavior relevant to
established IEP goals and objectives."
"Retrospective data" (that is, documented past history) on
regression and recoupment are not required for a child to qualify. Other
evidence that can be relied upon in making ESY determinations includes
reports by parents of negative changes, or observations and opinions by
educators, parents and others.
Last summer, we received a number of complaints - late ESY
eligibility determinations, districts that failed to develop
individualized ESY IEPs, and others. For the past several months, we have
been working with the PA Department of Education to develop a Basic
Education Circular that would prevent some of these problems, and
eliminate some widely held misconceptions about ESY programs. That BEC
has just been issued, and ELC will send copies on request. ELC also has a
new "Fact Sheet" on ESY programming.
Some of the "highlights" of the BEC are:
All children with disabilities must be considered for ESY
eligibility at their annual IEP meetings, not just children with severe
IEP team reviews for ESY eligibility for children with severe
emotional disturbances, autism, moderate and severe levels of retardation
or multiple disabilities must be completed by February 28 of each school
year, and the Notice of Recommended Assignment (NORA) issued to parents
(with program specifics if eligible) no later than March 31. Since this
BEC is just being issued in early February, some districts may
legitimately have difficulty convening these IEP meeting by the end of the
month. This BEC should, at least, give families substantial leverage in
getting the meetings scheduled ASAP.
Whenever a family asks that a child be considered for ESY
eligibility, an IEP team meeting must be convened, and the decision
conveyed to the parents via a NORA. Negative decisions can be challenged
through the procedural safeguard system.
ESY programs are not limited to self-help and basic skills.
Academic and vocational goals can also be part of an ESY program.
Although most ESY programs are designed to make up for the long
summer break, ESY programs can include weekends or even continuous
A child's ESY program cannot be changed over the parents' objection
and request for a hearing until all due process procedures have been
If fully understood and implemented, these new regulations,
and the new BEC, will be a big help to families trying to get ESY services
for their children.
Janet Stotland, Education Law Center - PA