Personal Experiences: I have some teams tell me: "we don't have a summer program", or, "your child is not severe enough to require services". The response: If the school does not have a summer program and your child needs summer services that is their issue. They need to provide the service if they have to create one or contract out. In a couple schools faced with this issue I accepted tutoring for one child and outplacement at a therapy center for another.
In terms of what child can benefit from summer services I will outline that more below.
Extended School Year is addressed in IDEA under Regulation 300.106. It is not even mentioned in the Statute. When you research a special ed. topic you want to look under the Statutes, then the regulations. ESY is not a clear cut topic. You also need to look at your state regulations as they differ also. Decisions in ESY are changing all the time so you need to research some recent case determinations also.
Regulation 300.106 a. each public agency must ensure that ESY be provided only if a child's IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, that the services are necessary for the provision of a FAPE to the child.
What does that mean in layman terms: When the team is meeting they must take in consideration the child needs. They can't say, all the kids in the 101 Autism room don't have summer services. That's a no, no. They need to look at your child only. This is another reason why they can't tell you that their school does not have a summer program.
Also, FAPE means your child is entitled to a free appropriate public education.
This next Section Outlines standards for ESY. (wrightslaw)
In Standards for Extended School Year (ESY), Nissan Bar-Lev describes the legal basis and standards for ESY as defined by federal courts around the country. Dr. Bar-Lev is the special education director of CESA-7 in Green Bay, WI.Letter to Given (OSEP, 2003) After the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a decision about ESY in MM v. Greenville County, 303 F.3rd 523, 537-538 (2002), the Department of Education issued an Opinion Letter clarifying that lack of progress is not the only criteria for finding a child eligible for ESY. They noted that "likelihood of regression, slow recoupment, and predictive data based on the opinion of professionals are derived from longstanding judicial precedents," and that the Fourth Circuit noted that ESY decisions are fact and case specific and a showing of actual regression is not required to find a child eligible for ESY." (pdf)
Personal Note--You may hear the school say: ESY is only for students who will regress. As you can see above that is not necessarily the case. If you child may regress, or even have trouble the first few months back at school regaining skills then you may be found eligible. Your team should sit and look at date collected and see how long you think it would take your child to relearn the material. So you may say: This is just an example: If he is out of school 9 weeks, he will lose at least 5 hours of straight math application and will be behind by 35 hours over the summer. Based on that number it will take him three months to regain those skills. I recommend he receive math tutoring for at least two hours a week for the nine weeks. In addition I'd like worksheets so we can work with him ourselves.
The regulation goes even further to state:
The public agency may not
1. Limit extended school year services to particular categories of disability. (believe it or not even though this is in the regs. I have had schools tell me that their summer programs are only for the kids who have severe disabilities).
2. Unilaterally limit the type, amount or duration of those services. (Once again, they may say we only offer kids a tutor for one hour a week over the summer)
Note: Recently I attended a conference and they mentioned that if a child is working on emergent skills it is even more important to have Extended School Year. This means that if a child is learning how to read, perform basic math calculations, verbalizing needs more, sitting or walking with PT etc...you have even more on your side to advocate for summer services.
Lastly Here is a list of what the ESY is and isn't:
EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) IS:
Based only on the individual student’s specific critical skills that are critical to his/her overall educational progress as determined by the IEP committee.
Designed to maintain student mastery of critical skills and objectives represented on the IEP and achieved during the regular school year.
Designed to maintain a reasonable readiness to begin the next year.
Based on multi-criteria and not solely on regression.
Considered as a strategy for minimizing the regression of skill, thus shortening the time needed to gain back the same level of skill proficiency that existed at the end of the school year.
Deliverable in a variety of environments and structures such as:(a) Home with the parent teaching, and staff consulting(b) School based(c) School based with community activities(d) Related services alone or in tandem with the above.
EXTENDED SCHOOL YEAR (ESY) IS NOT:
It is not a mandated 12-months service for all students with disabilities.
It is not required for the convenience of the school or parents and, therefore, cannot serve as a day care or respite care service.It is not required or intended to maximize educational opportunities for any student with disabilities.
It is not necessary to continue instruction on all of the previous year’s IEP goals during the ESY period; rather, the focus should be on those specific, critical skills where regression, due to an extended vacation period, may occur.
It is not to be considered to help students with disabilities advance in relation to their peers.
It is not for those students with disabilities who exhibit regression, which is solely related to medical problems resulting in degeneration, or transitional life situations such as divorce or death of a family member. This type of regression is not due to the interruption of summer vacation.
It is not required solely when a child fails to achieve IEP goals and objectives during the school year. ( don't make the mistake of telling the that your child needs summer services since they didn't meet their IEP goals...common mistake but they may pick up on it and let you know)
It is not to provide a child with education beyond that is prescribed in his/her IEP goals and objectives.
Our thanks to Nissan Bar-Lev and the staff of Cooperative Educational Service Agency #7 for permission to use this article.URL: http://www.cesa7.k12.wi.us/sped/issues-esy/esymemo.html