Extended School Year (ESY)

Extended School Year (ESY) refers to special education and/or related services provided beyond the normal school year of a school division for the purpose of providing Free and Appropriate Education (FAPE) to a student with a disability.

These services, provided by a local education agency, are different from enrichment programs, summer school programs, and compensatory services and are not simply an extension of time. The consideration of ESY services is a part of the Individual Education Plan (IEP) process. Historically, some have focused on ESY services primarily as a means to address regression and recoupment issues. Recent case law developments in Florida, however, have shown that ESY should be viewed more generally as a means to address the issue of FAPE. In other words, the focus of an IEP team should be on whether the student will receive Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) if ESY services are not provided, and not merely on whether the student is entitled to ESY. The concept of regression may enter into the equation because unrecouped regression, over time, may be evidence that FAPE is not being provided. The IEP team must determine whether the benefits the child gained during the regular school year will be significantly jeopardized if the student does not receive ESY. Based on this analysis, if ESY is determined to be required, these services, at no cost to the parent, will vary in type, intensity, location, the inclusion of related services, and length of time, depending on the individual needs of the student.

The IEP must address the provision of ESY services, if required, in order for the student to receive FAPE

The IEP, in accordance with the Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Florida (FLDOE Regulations), must have a statement of the projected dates for initiation of services and the anticipated duration of the services. Thus, any IEP that complies with this requirement already has a built-in mechanism to address the duration of services, whether for the length of the school year or some longer or shorter time.

Factors to be considered when determining the need for ESY services
  • regression/recoupment

  • degrees of progress

  • merging skills/breakthrough opportunities

  • interfering behaviors

  • the nature and/or severity of the disability

  • special circumstances or other factors

An examination of these factors, should lead the IEP team to answer the basic question articulated by the courts: will the benefits a disabled child gains during the regular school year be significantly jeopardized if the child is not provided with the ESY program? If the answer is “yes,” then the child must receive ESY services in order to receive FAPE.