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Expert Q&A

Can the school district deny a child transportation on the grounds that the program is called “Summer School”?

Last year in May I found out that the special education services also included bus transportation for Extended School Year (ESY). I had to fight hard and request mediation before they provided the services for my daughter.

This year, as of May, there was no talk of any ESY. When I questioned them about it they said no ESY this year. There will only be a “Summer School” with a special education teacher, the same as last year.

Can they change the name from ESY to “Summer School” and not provide transportation? To me, this seems like a little play on words to get out of providing transportation.

Thank you,

Dear Kris:
Your question is whether your child can be denied transportation services for summer school when the same service was previously called extended school year service. Your school district appears to be attempting to exploit a technical nuance in relation to the services to which your child may be entitled.

As “summer school” is a regular education service, a child may not necessarily be entitled to transportation services for summer school as it is not an IEP covered service. By contrast, if a child is receiving transportation services during the school year and qualifies for “extended school year services” through special education, they would be entitled to receive transportation services for extended school year services over the summer if they were also receive those services for the school year. Thus, by renaming those services a summer school service rather than an extended school year, it appears that your school may be trying to inappropriately avoid its responsibility to provide transportation.

If the program is indeed the same program, just being provided under a different name, you would have a legitimate basis to file a complaint with the State Department of Education, a request for due process hearing, or potentially a complaint for violation of section 504 with the Office of Civil Rights. There is case law indicating that school district programs must be evaluated based on what they are actually doing rather than how they describe their program.

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