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Year in Review Series
Overcoming Roadblocks to Extended School Year (ESY) Services
A Success Story from Christine
Our 5th grade son, Alex, has high-functioning autism and average cognitive abilities. He has not met his IEP reading goal in over 2 years.
The school does not use standardized measures to track his progress and has been giving him average grades. He reads 2 years or more below grade level, yet the school gives him average grades.
For a long time, we were clueless and didn't notice.
We Pushed for Significant Change
This year, we got a great comprehensive evaluation from an independent evaluator.
For the next school year, we pushed for significant changes and had these changes written into the IEP:
Against our advice, the school set the reading goal unrealistically high. Apparently, they are optimists!
We Requested ESY
We wanted our son to get some reading help over the summer to help him reach this goal. The school district said summer school did not meet our son's needs.
I started researching Extended School Year (ESY) regulations.
Before our third and final IEP meeting of the season, we wrote twice via email and requested the IEP team add Extended School Year (ESY) services to the agenda.
The emailed reply was: "Yes, I will add ESY. However, I believe we would all agree that ESY does not meet Alex's needs. It is generally offered to the DD and DLP students, not resource students."
We Did Our Research
We've read www.wrightslaw.com and many other fine websites and books. We know the school's reasoning is contrary to the Individual with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) for two reasons.
Despite of what the school said, they did not add ESY to the agenda before the meeting.
When the meeting began, we asked the team to add ESY to the agenda again. The general feeling in the room was exasperation.
Finally, they added ESY as the last item.
When ESY finally came up, the school team told us again that Alex didn't qualify for these services. The school does not offer ESY to resource students. The summer school reading program is the same program that is currently failing Alex.
Navigating Around Roadblocks
I then made my prepared and practiced statement:
"Therefore, we propose that Alex see a reading tutor 2 or 3 times per week for 6 weeks over the summer at the district's expense."
The room became very quiet. The coordinator and facilitator tried to argue with us.
I told them, "It' says that you can't deny ESY based on category of disability or type of service." They responded, "I don't know what "It" is you are reading."
We handed them a copy of our state's memo on ESY. (http://www.isbe.state.il.us/spec-ed/pdfs/memo_esy_01.pdf)
"Oh, that," they replied.
I told them I would like to hear what the rest of the team thought. We've found this is a very useful technique. Everyone in the room is not a roadblock; most of them just won't speak up.
Finally, our son's regular ed teacher said she thought tutoring was a good idea. Then the assistive technology person agreed, and...
We were on our way.
The school committed to and agreed to pay for tutoring for the summer as extended school year services.
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