Extended School Year (ESY)

  • What is Extended School Year? 

    Extended School Year (ESY) services are special education and related services provided to students with disabilities beyond the regular 180-day school year. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the federal special education law, says that school districts, intermediate units, and charter schools must provide extended school year services if a student needs these services to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE). In some cases, interruptions in the school schedule, such as summer break, will result in children with disabilities losing many of their basic skills and taking a long time to get those skills back once school begins again. ESY services are provided during breaks in the educational schedule to prevent this loss. 


    What is not ESY? 

    Extended School Year services are not day care or respite services. They are not a summer recreation program or other programs or services which are not required to ensure the provision of a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) to a student — even if they provide some educational benefit.  


    Who decides if a student with a disability gets ESY services? 

    Every student with a disability, who qualifies for special education, has an individual education program (IEP). It describes the programs and services necessary for a free appropriate public education. This plan is written at a meeting of the IEP team that is made up of the student’s parents, teachers and other educational professionals. One of the issues discussed and decided upon at the IEP meeting is whether or not the student needs ESY services as part of the special education program. Extended School Year must be considered each year for every child with a disability at the IEP meeting, not just for students with certain categories of disability or those with severe disabilities. For more information see Extended School Year: A Guide for IEP Teams. It contains a step-by-step process for making the ESY decision. 


    When will the ESY decision be made? 

    ESY decisions are made at the IEP meeting. There is guidance from the Pennsylvania Department of Education regarding students who are identified as severely handicapped — mentally, physically or emotionally. Decisions about ESY for this target group of students need to be made by February 28th of each year, in order to be sure that parents have  

    sufficient time to exercise their procedural safeguards rights, if necessary. This means that the Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP) concerning the school district’s, IU’s, or charter school’s recommendation regarding eligibility for ESY can be issued no later than March 31, in order to give parents enough time to raise concerns.


    What is the ESY decision based on?  

    The IEP team makes its decision about providing ESY services by looking at information about the student’s performance that has been gathered all year. Some of this information measures student achievement before and after breaks from school. The team can also gather information from teachers’ and parents’ observations of the student’s behavior and skills before and after breaks. Medical or other agency reports can also be accessed.

    The team needs to look at factors like: 

    • Will the student regress (revert to a lower level of functioning) in skills or behaviors as a result of an interruption in educational programming?
    • Will the student take a long time to recoup (recover) the skills or behavior patterns that were lost during a break in educational programming? 
    • Will a pattern of difficulties with regression and recoupment make it unlikely that a student will maintain the skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives? 
    • Will a lapse in services substantially reduce a student’s chances of ever learning a critical life skill or behavior related to the IEP? 
    • Is the student at a crucial stage in mastering a life skill that is related to the IEP goals of self-sufficiency and independence from caregivers? 
    • Does the student have a severe disability such as autism/pervasive developmental disorder, a serious emotional disturbance, severe mental retardation, degenerative impairments with mental involvement or severe multiple disabilities? 

    Generally, No one factor, however, can be used to determine eligibility for ESY services.  

    Which services will be provided during Extended School Year? 

    The IEP team will determine which services and how much of these services will be provided during the extended school year. The team may decide that the student will continue all the services received during the regular school year, or it may decide that the student will only receive a portion of services or one specific service. This decision is based on the need of each student. 


    Where will ESY be provided?  

    The IEP team determines where ESY will be provided. It can be provided at many different places, like in school or at a job site. It is always provided in the least restrictive environment (LRE) that is appropriate for the student. This means that the student with disabilities is placed in the situation that allows opportunities to be with students who are not disabled wherever possible. However, the school district, IU, or charter school is not required to assemble non-disabled students just to make the ESY environment less restrictive. 


    Is there a charge for ESY services? 

    ESY services are a part of the free appropriate public education for a child with a disability who qualifies for special education and whose IEP team has determined that ESY is needed. There is no charge for these services or for needed transportation, if necessary for ESY services.


    What happens if parents and the IEP team do not agree about ESY services?  

    If parents and the school entity do not agree about ESY services and cannot resolve their differences, Parents y can ask for another IEP meeting, request free mediation services, or request a due process hearing. Mediation services use a neutral, specially-trained mediator who meets with both sides and helps both parties reach an agreement. A due process hearing is held before an impartial hearing officer who listens to both sides and then makes a written decision. More information about parents’ rights and due process is provided in the Procedural Safeguards Notice that is distributed with the NOREP.  



    • Additional information about Extended School Year can be found in the following publications:
    • Pennsylvania Parent Guide to Special Education for School Age Children 
    • Extended School Year Programs: A Guide for IEP Teams 
    • Extended School Year Programs: Questions and Answers  


    You can also contact: 

    Special Education ConsultLine — 800-879-2301 (V/TTY) 

    Parent Education Network — 800-522-5827 (V/TTY) 

    Parent Education and Advocacy Leadership Center — 866-950-1040 (V/TTY)

    Pennsbury School District 215-428-4100