Special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the regular 180-day school year are called extended school year (ESY) services. Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), school districts must provide ESY services if the student requires those services in order to receive a free and appropriate public education. The most common reason why a student receives ESY services is because it is feared that the student will regress or lose progress in critical life skills during time off from school. School districts are not required to provide ESY services to all students with disabilities, only those who require ESY services.

How is the ESY Decision Made?

Every student with disabilities has an individual education plan (IEP) that lists the student’s goals and objectives and the special education related services that will be provided to help the student succeed.

The IEP is written by a team that includes the student’s parents, teachers and other professionals. The IEP team decides whether or not the student needs ESY services in order to receive a free and appropriate education. It is important to remember that the IEP team may decide that the student does not need ESY services, in which case, ESY services will not be provided.

What are the Starting Points for Discussion of ESY Services?

The IEP team may look at assessment results, parent and teacher observations, the student’s performance after previous breaks from school, and other information.

The following questions may be discussed:

  • Will the student regress substantially in a critical life skill related to his or her IEP goals if ESY are not provided?
  • Is the student at a crucial stage in mastering a critical life skill when a lapse of services would substantially harm the child’s chances of learning that skill?
  • Is the nature or severity of the student’s disability such that the student will not receive a reasonable level of benefit from his or her educational program during the regular school year if ESY services are not provided?
  • Are there extenuating circumstances that make it unlikely that the student will receive a free appropriate public education without ESY services?
  • Does the targeted skill represent a barrier to continuous progress or self sufficiency?
  • Would the benefits to be derived from extended educational services outweigh the positive benefits of a summer break?
  • Have other options that would meet the needs of the student been considered and determined to be of less benefit than an extended school year?

Which Services will be Provided?

The IEP team may decide the student will receive all the services he or she receives during the regular school year as ESY services. The team may decide the student will receive only one particular service. Again, this decision will be made based on the critical life needs of the student. The IEP must indicate the type, amount, and duration of any ESY services the student will receive.

Where will ESY Services be Provided?

ESY services may be provided at a school, at a job site or in any location the IEP team determines most appropriate. As always, the IEP team will place the child in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that is appropriate for the child.

Is There a Charge for ESY Services?

No, ESY services are free for students with disabilities whose IEP team determines they need those services. This includes special transportation services, if the IEP team determines special transportation is a needed service.