Communication, covid-19

Summer 2020?

As the school year begins to wind down, there have been so many questions about summer services: summer school, extended year special ed services (ESY), and compensatory services.

  • Will we be having summer school in the building, on-line, or skipping it all together?
  • How are ESY services to be provided this summer, and should they be done in June or wait until August?
  • What is the difference between ESY and compensatory services?

I have been in so many meetings with the department of ed special ed staff, school district administrators, and organizations for special education administrators. The consistent answer I have heard across the board is “we don’t know.”

In Texas, guidance is provided by the governor’s office about whether faculty and students are allowed in school buildings, so that will answer the question of whether services will be happening on campus as we get closer to June. Decisions such as whether or not to have summer school are left up to individual districts to decide. Specifics about how to deliver ESY and compensatory services will be influenced by the governor’s decision, but there are additional guidelines to consider for those.

Extended School Year Services

IDEA §300.106 addresses extended school year services. Extended school year services must be provided only if a child’s IEP Team determines, on an individual basis, in accordance with §§300.320 through 300.324, that the services are necessary for the provision of FAPE to the child.

IDEA doesn’t provide guidance on how to determine if ESY services are needed, just that they must be made available if the IEP committees decides that ESY is necessary for FAPE. The most common reasons that an IEP committee may determine the need for ESY include regression and recoupment, or whether critical skills will be lost during this break from school and whether the time to re-learn the skills is excessive. IEP committees may also consider other needs, including but not limited to students’ recently acquired skills, behaviors, and communication needs, as reasons to determine the need for ESY.

The decision for ESY should be based on data, which may include information from formal or informal measures. While documentation of previous years’ regression and recoupment is often used as the criteria for consideration, informal observations of how a student does after a long weekend can provide lots of information to be considered.

ESY services are not the same as summer school or enrichment programs. Students with disabilities may participate in summer school and enrichment activities even if the IEP committee has determined that ESY is not necessary. Accommodations must still be implemented during those activities.

Compensatory Services

Compensatory services are different from ESY in that they are provided to compensate for services that were supposed to be provided but weren’t. Because of COVID-19, services for students with disabilities have looked different than what is in the IEPs, and there are some services that could not be provided through distance education. The US Department of Education provided some information that addresses the consideration for compensatory services.

Upon return to normal school operations, each IEP team for students with an IEP must review the provision of FAPE during the period of distance learning, to determine whether compensatory services are warranted in any service area, including instruction and/or any individual therapies. (OSERS March 2020).

So What Does This All Mean?

Each student’s IEP team will have to determine whether there is a need for ESY, compensatory services, or both. The decision about the need for ESY services can be made now. The determination about compensatory services won’t be made until school returns to normal.

Clear as mud?!