Extended School Year
Extended School Year
Extended school year (ESY) is generally considered to be services provided during what is normally a long break from school, most often summer break, though it can be used for shorter periods, such as holidays breaks.
Two cases that pertain to ESY issues are Daniel Lawyer v. Chesterfield (1993) and Reusch v. Fountain.
In the Lawyer case, the judge said, "Regression is not the only factor" in deciding if a child needs ESY services. He listed several additional factors that IEP teams should consider in making ESY decisions:
- Recoupment in the Fall;
- Child's rate of progress;
- Child's behavioral or physical problems;
- Availability of alternative resources;
- Areas of the child's curriculum that need continuous attention;
- Child's vocational needs.
In that case, the judge wrote about regression and recoupment and the need to take advantage of "windows of opportunity" in educating children with disabilities:
He said, "Danny's regression in the summer, coupled with nominal recoupment, severely limits the educational benefits he receives from instruction during the school year. His rate of progress is minimized by the interplay of continuous regression and recoupment."
"Moreover, Danny's behavioral problems are compounded by his severe language deficit. His inability to effectively communicate triggers unacceptable behavior. Therefore, it is critical that Danny be provided with continuous speech and communication services."
"Finally, the evidence provided by expert witnesses indicates that for children who suffer from moderate to severe childhood autism, there is a small, but vital, window of opportunity in which they can effectively learn. Such period is generally between the ages of five and eight years old . . . The Court concludes that it is extremely important that at this critical stage of development, Danny receive uninterrupted speech language therapy."
In the Reusch v. Fountain (1994) case, 872 F.Supp. 1421 (D. MD 1994), a federal court addressed the school district’s "hostility to providing ESY."
In this case, the court found that parents were prevented from advocating for their children by the district’s refusal to provide parents with notice about their right to request these services. The district also engaged in delaying tactics by requiring parents to attend futile meetings.
The court found that, in this district, administrative convenience took precedence over providing FAPE to children with disabilities. Educational decisions were not individualized according to the needs of the child.
In Reusch v. Fountain, the court listed six factors that the IEP team should consider in deciding if the child is eligible for ESY as a related service:
- Regression and recoupment - is the child likely to lose critical skills or fail to recover these skills within in a reasonable time;
- Degree of progress toward IEP goals and objectives;
- Emerging skills/breakthrough opportunities - Will a lengthy summer break cause significant problems for a child who is learning a key skill, like reading;
- Interfering Behavior - does the child’s behavior interfere with his or her ability to benefit from special education;
- Nature and/or severity of disability;
- Special circumstances that interfere with child’s ability to benefit from special education.
The court said: "In any contest between systematic efficiency and the provision of FAPE to a disabled child, Congress and the Supreme Court have made it clear that the child must prevail."
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