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Extended School Year (ESY) - a deeper understanding comparing ESY to Summer School, and understanding the differences.

Extended School Year (ESY) is not summer school, but what is it? Many families and schools use these terms interchangeably but that can be misleading. The vocabulary, acronyms and jargon can be all too consuming. Let’s dig deeper in comparing ESY to Summer School and if your student may be eligible. The following information is only related to ESY eligibility in Minnesota. Be sure to check your state regulations.


ESY is a program that is only available to students in special education. Summer school is an option for all students and does not necessarily require eligibility. Extended School Year is programming for students that demonstrate a need to be able to receive a Free, Appropriate, Public Education (FAPE). The need for ESY should be discussed during the annual Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting for every student. ESY is taught by a licensed special education teacher with experienced educational assistants. Traditional summer school can be taught by a variety of people including community members or teachers.


This program is the continuation of special education services beyond the school year. Program eligibility is based on regression and recoupment, unique need and self sufficiency. Extended School Year programming should be discussed at least annually. ESY programming should also be individualized to each child’s need. Extended School Year services can include academic, behavior, or related services such as occupational therapy.


ESY programming locations are determined by the district. Districts will often combine students from different schools (within the district) to receive services in 1 or 2 specific locations. These decisions are made based on the best way to meet the student needs and secure staffing. Many districts are also offering Extended School Year virtually. Location for ESY programming is often non negotiable but it can always be a conversation. Many of these decisions are not made until late May.


Each district has their own timeline of when they determine dates and times for Extended School Year. Each district also has the autonomy to determine which dates and days to hold Extended School Year. This is a non negotiable in the ESY planning. For example, if your family is on vacation for one of the weeks during ESY the district is not obligated to make that time up or change days to accommodate.


Extended school year (ESY) services are special education and related services that are provided to a student with a disability beyond the regular school year in accordance with his/her IEP. The need for ESY services must be determined annually on an individual basis by the Individual Education Program (IEP) team.

Do you have your extended school year information? Reach out to your student’s case manager or school to see if your school has made final decisions around ESY location, time and date.

If you disagree with the proposal of extended school year or lack of eligibility for extended school year please reach out. If you need more support or have questions regarding Extended School Year feel free to contact, Carla Kegel, Advocacy Advantages, 952-217-9127.

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