Jeff N. Eckert
What in the World is ESY?
Updated: Mar 3, 2019
ESY is a link to a free appropriate public education for students with disabilities
One of the more confusing acronyms among the many that parents encounter during IEP meetings is ESY, which stands for Extended School Year. Even for experienced educators, ESY is one of the more intricate concepts introduced by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). However, before discussing what ESY is, it is helpful to address what ESY is not. ESY is not summer school or summer camp, it is not limited to summer breaks, it is not remedial classes, and it is not respite or day care.
So what exactly then is ESY? Simply put, it is the recognition by the drafters of IDEA (Congress) that students with disabilities may need specially designed instruction and related services beyond the regular school year to prevent the loss or regression of critical skills that have been identified by the IEP team. Together, the likelihood of regression is considered along with the time required for the student to relearn or recoup the skill, especially in comparison with students without disabilities.
ESY should be tailored to meet the student's unique needs
Fortunately, the state of Florida under IDEA is given considerable flexibility to consider a combination of factors that might lead the IEP team to recommend ESY services for exceptional student education (ESE) students. These factors may include:
· the nature and severity of the disability
· critical life skills or emerging skills in these areas: academics, communication,
independent functioning, and social-emotional development
· rate of progress
· interfering behaviors
· other special circumstances
Also, the Florida regulations offer examples of some of these special circumstances:
· a student recently obtained paid supported employment and requires the services of a
job coach in order to be successful
· a student requires ESY services in order to remain in the existing least restrictive
environment (LRE) and prevent movement to a more restrictive setting
· a student’s frequent health-related absences have significantly impeded progress on
goals related to critical life skills.
ESY is meant to be adaptable to the circumstances of the student
Overall, ESY is designed to counteract the adverse impact that school breaks have on the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) for ESE students in Florida. By law, the IEP team must determine whether ESY is appropriate for every student and they must do so every year. Along with identifying the specially designed instruction for the ESY session, the IEP team should consider any related services or transportation needs for the ESE student.
Finally, Florida does not permit school districts to limit ESY to “particular categories of disability or unilaterally limit the type, amount, or duration of those services.” Therefore, parents and educators should be aware that ESY, like ESE, is not intended to be a “one-size-fits-all” approach. At times, IEP team members will need to push back against this tendency and strive towards creative, flexible solutions that best meet the individualized needs of each and every ESE student.