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BellaOnline's Children with Special Needs Editor

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Extended School Year and Special Education


Many parents are interested in seeking school district provided Extended School Year (ESY) services for their children who qualify for an IEP or 504 plan; especially those who are show emerging skills or are at high risk for losing existing skills over summer vacation.

Those who have unsuccessfully negotiated with their local school administrators may have been told that their child does not qualify, that there is no funding for ESY, or that the ESY program available is not appropriate for their child. It is difficult for parents to accept these decisions or advocate further for their children without understanding existing and changing rules about eligibility for ESY services and related ESY elements through judges' decisions and interpretations of the basic requirements.

The Wrights Law web pages are an excellent resource for parents who need to know more about laws and legal decisions about Extended School Year issues and how to negotiate with their local school districts when their children do qualify for ESY services.

For instance, I learned that recent standards established in court cases are: there is not a single criterion that qualifies a student for ESY services; consideration of regression and recoupment; analysis of 'emerging skills' and ‘breakthrough opportunities’; nature and severity of a child's disability; parental notice and timing of decisions made by the district; content and duration of summer programs; and the ability of the parents to provide an educational structure at home or through existing community resources.

Law Professors Peter and Pamela Wright teach courses in special education law and advocacy, work with the William and Mary Law School's Special Education Law Clinic, and have created several invaluable web sites to assist parents and other advocates to help develop higher quality special education programs and supports.

I highly recommend their books for parent group and public libraries, as well as their thorough discussions about Extended School Year Services, especially those on Advocacy Strategies for Negotiating for ESY Services and Special Ed Director Nissan B. Bar-Lev's resource guide for teachers in determining ESY services.

Browse at their websites, your local bookstore, public library or online retailer for Pete and Pam Wright's books or DVDs - Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide, and Surviving Due Process: When Parents and the School Board Disagree, Stephen Jeffers v. School Board DVD Documentary.

Do It Yourself Extended School Year
Terri Mauro's Do It Yourself ESY Guide has helpful ideas and links for families.

You may also be inspired by iPhone and iPod Touch applications that create augmentive communication devices for children, teens and adults with autism, Down syndrome or other diagnoses who appreciate alternative ways to communicate.
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Content copyright © 2014 by Pamela Wilson. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Pamela Wilson. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Pamela Wilson for details.

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