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Rochelle’s Special Education Tips

Summertime, and the Living is Easy
Except it is Not Always Easy to Meet the ESY Timeline

Spring is in the air. Make it your goal to address Extended School Year (ESY) eligibility for each student with an IEP by April 15, 2018. When you make the ESY determination, read aloud each of the questions on the ESY page of the IEP, including the last one. (Will the student be significantly jeopardized in making progress next school year if the student does not receive ESY services this summer?) It is usually this very last question that disqualifies a student for ESY services. Do not get hung up on whether the student’s IEP addresses critical life skills. You can always answer “yes” to that first question, and because of the last question, the student will still not qualify for ESY services.

Remember that ESY services are for the purpose of ensuring that the student is not deprived of a FAPE by virtue of the normal break in the regular school year. Some attorneys have been known to advocate that ESY should be interpreted to provide a longer school day during the school year. Not so.

Finally, some parents/attorneys/advocates have been known to try to push the IEP team into not making the ESY decision until school ends. Do not get backed into that corner. Remember the reason the April 15th date is your goal is because you need to give the parents an opportunity to file for a Due Process Hearing against the school system if there is a dispute over ESY. You do not want to be accused of denying the parent the right to sue you and to obtain the remedy of ESY services. Indeed, that is the reason why the U.S. District Court in Maryland decreed years ago in a case involving the Montgomery County Public Schools that the goal for ESY decision-making should be April 15th. You cannot make this up.

Rochelle’s Special Education Tips (“Tips”) are designed to be helpful and thought provoking, but should not be considered legal advice as they may not be accurate for use in all situations. Tips are based on my opinions and positions in accordance with federal and Maryland law and my over 35 years of experience in the special education legal field. – Rochelle S. Eisenberg, Esquire
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