For all students with disabilities Extended School Year (ESY) eligibility must be considered at each Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. This determination must be made even if the child's parents have not specifically requested that their child be evaluated for ESY programming. This consideration also applies to students who are attending Approved Private Schools (APS) or other such facilities, and charter schools. APSs must share necessary information with the responsible LEA so that a timely decision can be made by the IEP team. However, the ultimate responsibility for timely IEP review and revision rests with the LEA.
The timing of an ESY determination is dependent on whether the student is a member of the “target group” [as defined by the Armstrong guidelines]. Students in the “target group” are those students with a severe disability, such as:
· Autism/pervasive developmental disorder · Serious emotional disturbance · Severe mental retardation · Degenerative impairments with mental involvement · Severe multiple disabilities
Notice of Recommended Educational Placement (NOREP), containing the IEP team's determination regarding ESY eligibility, is to be issued to the parent in a timely manner. If the child has been determined to be eligible, the program specifics must be included in the IEP. This is to be done no later than March 31 of the school year for students in the target group.
As stated above, LEAs (including charter schools) must consider the eligibility for ESY of all children with disabilities at the IEP meeting, not just those in the "target group." ESY determinations for children other than those in the “target group” are not subject to the timelines set out above. However, these determinations must still be made in a timely manner in accordance with the requirements in Chapter 14 and Chapter 711. If the parents of those non-"target group" children disagree with the LEA's recommendation, the parents will be afforded an expedited due process hearing.
Moreover, whenever the parent of any student with a disability requests that the LEA consider a student for an extended school year program, the request must be treated as a request for a change in the provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE), and an IEP meeting must be conducted. Following the IEP meeting, the NOREP, which indicates the team's recommendation concerning whether the student is or is not eligible, is to be issued to the parent.
LEA notice to the parent concerning ESY eligibility or ineligibility must be by NOREP. The NOREP only needs to be issued if the LEA is:
Proposing to add ESY services to an IEP that previously did not have it.
· Proposing to delete the provision of ESY services from an IEP. · Refusing to initiate the provision of ESY services requested by the parent. · Proposing or refusing to change the provision of the ESY program.
The importance of making an ESY determination based on data and other reliable sources is well established. It should be noted that quantitative "data" are only one of the types of information that can be used to make ESY decisions. Predictive data, such as reports by parents, medical or other agency reports, observations and opinions by educators and others, can also provide a basis for an eligibility determination.
As 22 Pa. Code §14.132(2) and §711.44(4) states, ESY determinations can be based on the traditional regression/recoupment criteria as well as other factors, such as:
· Extent to which the student has mastered and consolidated an important skill or behavior at the point when educational programming would be interrupted. · Extent to which a skill or behavior is particularly crucial for the student to meet the IEP goals of self-sufficiency and independence from caretakers. · Extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming result in a student's withdrawal from the learning process.
If these factors "make it unlikely that the student will maintain skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives," or if the student otherwise requires ESY services to receive FAPE, the student is ESY eligible.