The Philadelphia Project


Decision Finds Major Flaws in District’s ESY Programming

In a May 2011 decision, a hearing officer ruled that the School District of Philadelphia violated the law in its planning of extended school year (ESY) services for JV, an elementary school student with autism, by failing to respond to parent concerns with JV’s ESY program voiced as November of 2010. Even months later – and after the legal deadline – the notification only stated that JV would be in “autistic support” without offering further detail.

The decision states that the District clearly failed to follow Pennsylvania policies and regulations in JV’s case, and it goes further, stating that these are general problems with the District’s ESY procedures. The Hearing Officer wrote that although developing district-wide programs for students with specific disabilities is not in itself an IDEA violation, the district’s rigid, one-size-fits-all system in this case failed to meet the law’s requirement that a student’s educational team create an individualized plan, crafted with significant input from the student’s parents.

The decision orders the District to hold a meeting with JV’s educational team and develop a comprehensive ESY plan before the summer.