Did your school district overpromise and underdeliver this Extended School Year? Learn how to keep your child with special needs from falling further behind.
Many school districts offered extended school year (ESY) services to make up for learning loss during the pandemic. But the promised education and services never materialized. What happened to your child’s ESY?
ESY is not “Summer School”. Many parents believe ESY is the same as summer school programs—but they’re very different. Summer school is a general education program open to all students. With over $4.6 Billion in extra cash, many California school districts offered summer school this year. Los Angeles Unified, for example, offered in-person summer school to all its students.
While “summer school” is general education, ESY is special education. Extended school year services must be provided if a child’s IEP Team determines that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE. It “extends” the IEP’s services and supports from the regular school year into the summer. For example, if your child receives specialized instruction and related services such as speech or behavioral therapy under his IEP, that programming would generally extend into the summer. ESY is typically included in an IEP if the child would regress in learned skills during an extended break.
ESY does not remedy learning loss. Many school districts and charter schools offered in-person ESY this summer in order to make up for learning loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Parents may even have been required to sign a release forms or statements giving up important rights in exchange for the in-person ESY. However, in most cases, a few weeks of ESY could not remedy over a year of learning loss. (Although it might have prevented further regression). Unfortunately for many children, the promised ESY services and supports never appeared.
The missing ESY. Teachers and service providers are exhausted. This has been a tough time for parents as well as teachers (and many teachers are parents too). Despite financial incentives, they’re simply too burned out to work. Others are fearful of a COVID resurgence, with good reason as it turns out. For these and other reasons, the promised in-person special education never happened. What can you do if your child’s ESY was canceled or vastly different than what was promised in her IEP?
Get help for your child. Unfortunately, it is unclear how schools will make up for learning loss from March 2020 to now. Parents will need to move quickly and get proactive. Follow these steps to obtain private programming at school district expense:
- Find an appropriate program. Try to focus on your child’s primary areas of need or regression. For example, if your child has dyslexia, you may want to identify a program or tutor with training and experience in teaching students with that type of learning disability. Get help from friends, family, community supports, Regional Centers and child advocacy services in locating a tutor or “learning loss” program.
- Keep your receipts for all tuition and related costs, such as books, software, mileage, etc.
- Notify the school district or charter school. No less than 10 days before the start of the “learning loss” program, notify the school district or charter school in writing of your intention to place your child in the program and your expectation that the district/charter will pay for it. Keep a copy of the “10-day Notice” for your records.
- After your child has started with her “learning loss” program, demand reimbursement (or direct payment) from the school district or charter school. Again, keep a copy of your “Demand Letter” for your records. Follow-up (in writing) in 2 weeks if you don’t get a response.
- If the school district or charter school refuses to pay, you may want to file a Compliance Complaint with the State Department of Education. Attach the IEP that promises ESY, as well as the 10-day Notice and Demand letters, including follow-ups. Also provide receipts to support your request for payment of the learning loss program. Request mediation (available in California) as part of your Compliance Complaint. Expect a resolution within 60 days.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis and school closures, ADAMS ESQ’s social justice circle is funding academic screenings at no charge to qualifying children with special education needs in California and Nevada. For more information on this program, contact us today at: firstname.lastname@example.org or reach us toll-free at: 1-800-785-6713. You also may want to read and repost our past COVID19-related blogs: “Forget About the Toilet Paper—Grab that IEP!”, “IEP Alerts for Parents” , “Special Education Teaching is Really Hard!”, “The ‘FREE’ in FAPE”, Doubling-Down on Special Education and Look Before You Leap! 5 Things to Know Before Leaving Your Child at School During a Pandemic.