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  • Writer's pictureAimee

What is ESY and Is it Right for Your Child?

Summer is just around the corner!  For parents, this involves planning kids’ summer activities and deciding what place continued learning might have in the summer schedule.

Extended School Year (ESY) programming is a service public schools provide each summer to eligible students with IEPs.  ESY consists of special education and related services offered to students outside the typical school year.  A student’s IEP team determines whether they require summer programming in order to maintain learning over the extended school break. The IEP team also determines what specific services a student needs during ESY, if eligible.  Services are provided at no cost to parents.

ESY programming is not “one size fits all.”  In fact, schools cannot limit the type, amount, or duration of ESY services based on a child’s disability category or the severity of their disability. They must provide services that are individually appropriate for each child. Many students attend ESY programs in their home school district, while others attend specialized private programs to meet their needs.

What timelines apply to ESY? It depends on the severity of a student’s disability. A 1979 court case identified a group of students called the “Armstrong Group” whose IEP team must meet to determine ESY services by February 28th of each year.  Armstrong Group students are those with severe disabilities such as autism, severe emotional disturbance, severe intellectual disability, or severe multiple disabilities. For students in this group, written notice in the proper form must be issued to their parents on or before March 31st specifying ESY eligibility and program specifics such as location, dates, and operation hours.

For students that are not in the Armstrong Group, ESY determinations still need to be made in a timely manner in accordance with the law.  All parents of students receiving ESY are entitled to proper notice of program details.   

As with so many school topics, sometimes ESY disagreements happen.  Either the school or parent can elect mediation or a due process hearing for assistance in resolving ESY disputes.  Since ESY is a time sensitive issue, proceedings are expedited.

Parents who have questions about ESY can contact their child’s IEP case manager.  If you have a legal concern or dispute relating to ESY, Zundel Law offers a complimentary 30-minute consultation that can help you navigate options.  

Finally, for a helpful guide to ESY published by the PA Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN), visit:

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