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Summer Extended School Year Programs for Children with Disabilities

June 30th, 2015

By Marion M. Walsh, Esq.

The end of the school year can bring relief for many students and parents, but also uncertainty and trepidation about the summer months. The new school year technically beings on July 1, 2015, although most students will not begin school until September. Many students do regress academically, behaviorally or emotionally during the summer months and require Extended School Year (“ESY”) services over the summer. Littman Krooks

Only certain students with disabilities qualify for ESY or summer services, which generally run for six weeks from July 6th through approximately August 14th this year, although some districts may have different dates and shorter programs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and New York State Regulations technically allow Extended School Year services for students likely to experience substantial regression, as measured by whether the student has regressed academically during breaks during the school year. The CSE may allow ESY services for students who regress emotionally or behaviorally, if appropriate. Specifically, the law provides that the CSE must consider ESY services to prevent substantial regression for students:

• In special classes with management needs that are highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention;
• in special classes with severe multiple disabilities, whose programs consist primarily of habilitation and treatment
• who are recommended for home and/or hospital instruction whose special education needs are determined to be highly intensive and require a high degree of individualized attention or who have severe multiple disabilities;
• whose needs are so severe that they can be met only in a seven-day residential program; or
• receiving other special education services who, because of their disabilities, exhibit the need for twelve-month special service and/or program in order to prevent substantial regression.

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An ESY program is very different from summer school which high schools may offer for typical students. Summer school credit recovery programs focus on the needs of students who have failed classes or need support during the summer months.

For students who are in summer ESY programs, it is important for parents to monitor closely and take immediate steps to rectify any concerns, as the six weeks passes quickly . Too often, school districts throw ESY programs together too quickly and do not ensure appropriate groupings or activities. Be sure to monitor your child’s progress and put all complaints in writing.

Here are some questions our parents have asked about summer programs:

Q: My child’s program only has very disabled peers and looks very different from her school year program. Is this appropriate?
A: Your child’s summer program should allow her to progress in the Least Restrictive Environment. Consider what type of public program your child needs to have interaction with non-disabled peers. The CSE should offer a continuum of placements and the program should have essentially the same level of inclusion as his or her school year program. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in 2014 found that an ESY program was substantively inadequate, as the CSE failed to consider an appropriate continuum of alternative ESY placements and place the student in his LRE on that continuum. The District claimed the program was appropriate and noted that it only offered certain limited programs in the summer months. But the Court held that: “a child’s LRE is primarily defined by the nature of the child’s disabilities rather than by the placements that the school district chooses to offer.” T.M. v. Cornwall Central School District

Q: How can I monitor my child’s progress?

A: Work closely with your child’s teacher to monitor the work and how he is doing. Pay close attention to the level of supervision and monitoring. Make sure any concerns about bullying are addressed promptly. Here are some questions to start with, in a dialogue with your child’s teacher:

• Is my child working on his or her goals?
• Does this class provide an appropriate group of students?
• Is the program addressing the specific areas of weakness?
• Are staff appropriately trained on her area of disability?
• Is there adequate supervision?
• What about field trips?

Q: My child needs a break from school and we have long family vacations. Can I pull her out of the summer program?

Speak with the CSE and the District and notify staff that you are considering removing your child from the summer program because of needed family time or simply down time. You may also decide that your child needs a recreational program to develop social skills. Ask if you think removing her will have an impact or affect her progress. If your child is in a school district program, it is unlikely that this will cause difficulties. However, do keep in mind if you do not access the summer program for your child and complain about lack of progress or regression in the fall, the CSE may consider the fact that she did not attend the summer program. Also, if your child is in a specialized school, this will probably not be appropriate and the school may state attendance is mandatory. If your child is in a twelve month residential program, this will not be an option.

Q: My child’s CSE in May stated my child did not regress during breaks, but I see significant regression. They had no data. What can I do?

Whenever you disagree with any decision of a CSE, you have the right to file for due progress. While it is late in the year to file for summer, you may file for compensatory services. It’s best to talk to an attorney about the options. Also, in the next school year, be sure to ask the teachers before each break to measure regression. Keep your own records as well, as to basic skills your child has before each break and after.
Q: I do not believe that my child’s ESY program is appropriate and am sending him to a private camp. Can I seek reimbursement from the school district?

Yes. You do have the right to file for due process and may seek reimbursement for private services. If the private summer program you chose offered individually tailored special education services, you may prevail in a claim. Keep in mind that it is the law does not allow recovery for camping and recreation programs, however. A hearing officer could order reimbursement if: 1) there has been a denial of a free appropriate public education; 2) the private services are appropriate and 3) equitable considerations support the claim.
In short, ESY services represent an important aspect of your child’s special education program. If you have questions or do not believe the program is appropriate, it is best to speak to an experienced special education attorney about your child’s case.


Learn more about our special needs planning and special education advocacy services at www.littmankrooks.com or www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

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How the Common Core Standards Will Affect General and Special Education

September 24th, 2013

The Common Core State Standards Initiative represents an effort led by states to establish a clear set of standards for math and language arts education from kindergarten through the 12th grade. The standards are designed to ensure that students graduating from high school are prepared to enter college or the workforce. The guidelines are designed to be clear and concise so that parents, teachers and students can easily understand what students are expected to learn. The standards have been voluntarily adopted by 45 states, many of which are implementing them beginning with the 2013-2014 school year.

It is important for parents to be aware of what the common core standards are and how they will affect their children’s education. Parents of children with special needs may also wonder how special education will be integrated with the common core standards.

The common core standards are different from previous standards in that they encourage teachers to delve more deeply into the subject matter that is appropriate for that grade level, rather than attempting to cover too many different topics in a superficial way. As an illustration, kindergarten students in New York were previously expected to learn to count to 20 orally and write the numbers up to 10, and they were also introduced to exercises in identifying and creating numerical patterns, which was intended as a rudimentary introduction to algebra concepts. In the new standards, the focus on patterns has been dropped, and kindergarten students instead focus more intensely on learning to count. Kindergarteners will now learn to count to 100 orally and write the numbers up to 20. Rather than memorizing a list of numbers, the focus will be on making sure students truly understand what numbers mean.

The principle of delving more deeply into fewer subjects holds true for language arts as well. The Common Core also requires students to read more deeply and to read non-fiction. It applies to all grade levels from kindergarten to 12th grade.

The Common Core in New York City school system, the NYCDOE, is initiating changes. The implementation of the common core standards is happening at the same time that changes are being made in the city’s special education system, after a two-year pilot phase. The special education reforms call for more inclusion for students with special needs, with as much integration into general classrooms as is appropriate based on the student’s individual challenges. The city’s academic officers said that separate special education classrooms could be a detriment to students with learning disabilities who are seeking high school diplomas.

There are obvious challenges involved with introducing two different sets of changes simultaneously, and some parents have expressed concern that the new common core standards may be difficult to modify for special education purposes and might create more barriers for special needs students. However, education officials said that the approach makes sense and is part of moving all students toward a higher set of standards.

For more information on the Common Core in New York, visit http://www.engageny.org.
To learn more about our legal services for families with special needs, visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


How Adults with Autism Can Manage Their Own Treatment Plan

August 26th, 2013

Children with autism spectrum disorders often receive support in school through special education, school psychologists and other services, and parents are usually closely involved in helping to develop their child’s treatment plan and following up to make sure that treatment is as effective as possible.

Once a child with autism turns 18, the situation changes. Although an adult with autism may benefit from continued treatment, and parents may be funding that treatment, parents will not necessarily have the same access to their adult child’s treatment providers, and thus cannot play the same role. In addition, it can be an important step for a young adult with autism to begin playing more of a role in directing his or her own treatment. However, this can often be a struggle.

For students on an individualized education program (IEP) in high school, there is a legal requirement that a plan be developed to help the student transition into adulthood. Research has shown that the more students can be encouraged to develop self-determination, the more they will be able to participate in their own IEP and transition plan. This transition into self-direction of his or her own treatment will serve the student well as a young adult.

One difficulty that is often encountered with young adults receiving treatment for autism is lack of coordination among multiple service providers. When the young adult was a child, his or her parents or school counselors may have worked to ensure that different types of treatment fit into a cohesive treatment plan. As an adult, it is important for a person with autism to understand, as much as possible, the goals of treatment and be able to judge whether or not various treatment options are meeting those goals. Needless to say, each young adult with autism has different capabilities, but the if parents work with their child toward self-determination during the teenage years, then the person will be more able to participate in his or her own treatment as an adult.

For more information about our legal services for people with special needs, visit www.specialneedsnewyork.com.


Funding Helps Inclusion Education For Special Needs Students

October 11th, 2012

As part of the overhaul process of special education in New York City public schools, one of the goals is increased student inclusion, both in individual schools and system-wide. Though inclusive classroom placement for students with disabilities has been the national education policy for some ten years, in New York City public schools, of the approximately 165,000 students with disabilities, some 40 percent of them currently spend all or most of their school day in separate classes from students without disabilities.

According to numerous studies, children with disabilities who are educated with their peers without disabilities in inclusive classrooms show a variety of academic gains, including mastery of  IEP goals, improved standardized test performance, increased motivation, and better on-task behaviors. [1]  In contrast, students with disabilities who are educated in separate classes show a graduation rate of 5 percent, which is far below the citywide overall graduation rate of 65 percent.

Now, as part of the overhaul process, New York City schools will begin incorporating students into inclusive classrooms for grades kindergarten, sixth and ninth. Administrators, including principals, teachers and aids, have been training to work with all levels of learners, their families, and individualized education plans (I.E.P.s), and teachers with special needs students in their classrooms. [2]

Prior to 2012, rather than have every school able to accommodate every student,  New York City students with special needs would often be transferred from their neighborhood school, or even their district school, to attend a school with special needs services in place. These reform plans are one part of a push to comply with the Education for All Handicapped Children Act of 1975 for all 1,700 New York public schools. And while advocates and parents have been working for a broader acceptance of students with special needs in the public school system, some have voiced concern that mainstream educators do not have the necessary resources and training to meet students’ needs effectively, and that some special needs students will be placed in inclusive classrooms when they would be better served working with education specialists. [3]

This past May, The Panel for Education Policy voted to alter New York city’s financing formula to help restructure the city’s special education program by allotting money to the students rather than to special education classes. [4]

For more information, visit our website at www.specialneedsnewyork.com.

  1. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.incls.rsrch.whitbread.htm
  2. http://schoolbook.org/2012/05/24/city-panel-approves-special-education-inclusion-plan
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/schoolbook/2012/08/09/special-ed-reform-brings-city-more-in-line-with-national-trend/
  4. http://eservices.nysed.gov/sepubrep/

How Does this Recent Court Case Shed Light on My Child’s Ability to obtain a Free Education at a Specialized Institution

April 2nd, 2012

An important New York Court of Appeals case recently determined that a school district cannot be forced to pay for an education if the child is a non-resident of the school district. In Board of Ed. of the Garrison Union Free School District v. Greek Archdiocese Institute of St. Basil, the St. Basil Academy had tried to enroll 26 students tuition free. The academy is a residential institution where children reside because of various issues involving the inability of children to remain in their homes.  Although the children reside at the residential facility, the school does not have legal guardianship of its residents.

Thus, the appeals court ruled that simply because the children lived there did not qualify them as being residents of the district. State education laws, including Education Law §3202, show that residency is established by where the parents or legal guardians live.  The court case established that local school districts are not responsible for absorbing the cost of the tuition for the children living in these types of institutions.

Furthermore, “…a license to operate a child care institution does not change the residence of the children living there.” That said, the court did explain that school districts are required to pay for education for students who are placed in orphanages by a state or family court judge. St. Basil’s residents are mainly referred to the educational institution by Greek Orthodox priests, the court noted.

A child’s last permanent residence, not a temporary foster placement residence, is what sets their school district eligibility. This recent case follows previous case law in New York whereby public schools are free to resident students and non-residents must pay tuition.

For assistance with questions regarding your child’s special education needs visit our website at


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