ESE Advisory Council

The ESE Advisory Council explores ways to improve services for students with various disabilities as well as gifted learners.

This group includes district staff, representatives from various support agencies, and the families of children who participate in Exceptional Student Education programs. Meetings are open to the public, and all are welcome to attend. For more information or to get involved in the ESE Advisory Council, call (863) 535-6485 or contact

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ESE Advisory Council Minutes

Thusday, January 17, 2019

Welcome and Introductions

Parent and attendee introductions. Special recognition for district guests including:
John Hill – Deputy Superintendent; Dr. Michael Akes – Chief Academic Officer; Lisa Miller – School Board, District 7; Sarah Fortney – School Board, District 3

Follow-up from October meeting:

Behavior support guidelines for parents and teachers

  • Does advisory have input?
  • Is draft ready to publish on internet?

Jim Maxwell shared an overview of his new department for Behavioral and Mental Health Services. He described the organizational structure and different functions of each group to include SEDNET/Behavioral Support, MTSS and PBIS Sr. Coordinators, Mental Health Services, and Bullying Prevention. Mr. Maxwell provided a draft parent handout (tri-fold brochure) that outlined the various types of district resources/personnel available for support, the MTSS (Multi-tiered System of Supports) and PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports) framework for academic and behavioral interventions, and highlighted information for parents on requesting supports at the school level and ideas for interventions. Mrs. Miller commented that the information was good and stated that a video type message presenting the information on the district website would be a good idea and would help her respond to many phone calls she receives as a board member. Jason Geary shared that he is continually working with the ESE department on updating information to the website and he would work with Mr. Maxwell to develop something for the website.

LEA Facilitators

  • Roles and Responsibilities
  • Overview of trainings and PD throughout the year
  • Updated list by school

Dr. Steinke shared an overview of trainings and professional development sessions that are provided to LEA Facilitators throughout the year (see items after agenda). She also showed a list of all LEA Facilitator/Contacts by school that will be posted for parent access on the district website. Limited copies of a draft list of “LEA Facilitator/LEA Contact Roles and Responsibilities” was handed out for meeting participants to preview and give feedback. The parents responded that the draft looked good and met their request from the last ESE Advisory meeting. Dr. Steinke shared that as soon as it was sent to principals and school staff it would be posted on the district website. The draft documents were collected back from everyone.


Symposium on Special Education

  • Proposed date and location

The group agreed to target a date in the fall sometime near the end of October. The requested location will be Lake Region HS if available.

  • Planning Committee member selection

ESE Senior Manager – Polly Bruno and parent – Tosha Littles volunteered to serve as leaders for the planning of the fall symposium.
Mrs. Miller and Mollie Brown-Ferrier (representative from Agencies for Persons with Disabilities) brought up the topic of inter-agency meetings that previously occurred with the various agencies supporting Polk county students. Diane Taylor stated those meetings occurred years ago but that over the years many of the agency representatives began attending the ESE Advisory meetings resulting in the ending of the inter-agency meetings. The group further discussed using the Symposium agency resource list as a resource for inviting representatives to future ESE Advisory meetings.

  • Next steps

The group agreed to schedule a separate meeting for those interested in working on the Symposium planning committee. Information will be discussed at future meetings.

ESE Advisory meeting dates for remainder of year [Proposed]

Tuesday, March 5th  (lunch hour),
Tuesday, April 30th (evening),
Tuesday, June 11th  (lunch hour),
Tuesday, July 23rd (evening)

Dr. Steinke shared that the proposed dates were clear with the district calendar and requested feedback from the group on any other possible conflicts that may interfere. There were no objections. Dr. Steinke will work to get the remaining dates on the calendar and announced. Mrs. Miller raised the question about better marketing and advertisement for the ESE Advisory meetings so that more parents would hopefully attend. Dr. Steinke and Jason Geary shared that current meetings have been posted on the district website as a highlighted news story, and placed on the district’s social media sources (Facebook, Twitter) in the same manner as other district events. Discussion occurred regarding a way to collect and maintain a “subscription list” for parents to receive notifications and reminders, as well as options for the district’s school messenger system. Sarah Frederick also shares information on the ESE Advisory Facebook page and with her parent support group called SNAPS. There was discussion about the possibility of developing an ESE Advisory page on the district website.

New Items:

  •  SRO, Guardian, Sheriff and local law enforcement training on how to work with special needs children in case of mental health crisis or emergency. (Calling Crisis team first before SRO or Police.)

The group discussed the idea of school SROs receiving training on working with students with disabilities and being aware of some of the behaviors that SWD may demonstrate and that SROs need to be aware. There was also discussion about SROs being involved with discipline situations. Mrs. Miller mentioned previous trainings that have occurred and resources available to provide the SRO training (Donna Lorman from Autism Society of Greater Orlando, Candy (?) from Lake County). Dr. Steinke and Mr. Maxwell shared that recent legislation under the Marjory Stoneman Douglas act requires certain procedures. Dr. Steinke also shared that members of the ESE department have presented information to SROs in years past regarding SWDs. Tosha Littles shared that Florida’s Family Network on Disabilities organization which she also represents has a training they provide related to disability awareness.

  • Review current ESE and Access Point training for all teachers

Discussion centered around the need for general education teachers who have more and more students with disabilities on modified curriculum (access points) and their need for more training. Dr. Steinke shared that the ESE department is working on increasing this type of training and that it is currently provided on an as needed, case-by-case basis with those teachers. It is viewed as an increasing need. Dr. Akes confirmed that this was a topic of discussion for the Teaching and Learning division. Discussion also included a request to post a list of acronyms associated with ESE on the district website.

  • Discuss behavior issues in Self Contained settings

This discussion was simultaneous to the discussion about SROs and need for more training. A parent mentioned that the new school guardians are reluctant with some of the kids and don’t know how to handle situations in some of the classrooms.

  • Turning ESE Advisory into a committee with Board Member participation

Sarah Frederick inquired about the process for making the ESE Advisory a committee that would include a school board member. Mr. Hill and Dr. Akes shared that the current meetings are public meetings for all that attended and that school board members have a process based on Sunshine Laws they must follow for attending public meetings where a fellow board member may be in attendance. There was discussion on how to ensure that the school board/full board was aware of the needs of our SWD and concerns of the parents. Dr. Akes recommended that the advisory board do bi-annual updates to the school board. Mr. Hill confirmed that there would be no problems with getting this on the work session agenda. Ms. Frederick also raised the topic of ESE Advisory bylaws which have not been updated since 2013 but that include positions for elected ESE Advisory “board” members. The group agreed that the bylaws would be on the agenda for the next ESE Advisory meeting as a topic of discussion and that future plans would be made for elections of the positions.

Professional Development for LEA Contacts and Facilitators

  •  LEA Meetings to provide state, district and department updates (3-4 times per year)
  • IEP Compliance Mini-Trainings on Meeting Notices, Present Levels of Performance, and Annual Measurable Goals and Objectives (offered annually)
  • IEP Compliance Mini-Training on Transition IEPs (new in 2018-19)
  • Matrix training (offered annually)
  • ESE Topical Mini-Training on Accommodations and Assistive Technology (offered annually)
  • ESE Topical Mini-Training on Bookshare (Accessible Instructional Materials program) (new in 2018-19)
  • FOCUS Training for ESE Data Entry (new in 2018-19)
  • Numerous small group and individual trainings provided at schools by the assigned staffing specialist to address immediate needs of the school throughout the year including:
    • IEP development and compliance
    • Transfer IEPs
    • ESY determination of needs
    • Deferral of Diploma
    • Test Waivers
    • Documentation of ESE Services and Accommodations
    • Post-Secondary Goals and Services
    • Reevaluations
    • IEP Amendments
    • Enrich program
    • FOCUS program

Calendar Dates

ESE Advisory Summer Activities 2021

Summer Sensory Stations

As the weather heats up it is a great opportunity to head out to a local park equipped with shaving cream, Silly Putty, paint, and/or colored water with buckets to create a sensory station to further familiarize your child with different “goopy” textures and improve tolerance to moisture. Load the table up with different elements and let your child smear it around or fill a bin with rice and dig your fingers in. Sensory play has many benefits.

Tent Time

Create a fantasy land all your own with your child, without ever leaving home! Pull out your blankets and drape them over your dining room chairs and line the tent with blankets to create an instant play space in your living room or backyard. Tent play can occupy your children for hours. For my son, it’s also comforting because he can retreat there if he feels overwhelmed and needs some quiet time. “We got my boy a store-bought tent with a sleeping bag for his birthday and it’s become his “lil’-man cave”, he loves it! You can find tons of store-bought tents at Toys R Us or online.”

Farm Time/Petting Zoo

Visiting a farm or petting zoo can be a great sensory experience for ASD children. Many farms and zoos will also allow your kids to bypass the lines to avoid potential meltdowns if you arrange the exception ahead of time. A farm is an exceptional option because there may be a chance for the kids to ride horses or pony’s which is also calming for them and great to help them get organized due to the rhythmic trotting’s effect on the inner ear (vestibular system). A petting zoo is a great sensory experience since they get to touch and interact with the animals, up close and personal.

Extended School Year (ESY)

Who is eligible for ESY services?

  • Students receiving special education under Part B of IDEA (ages 3-21)
  • In any placement, including regular schools, special schools, and hospital or- home-bound

Eligibility Criteria

  • No single criteria can be used to determine eligibility
  • Each individual child has unique needs
  • Seven separate factors that must be considered each year (if a student satisfies any of these criteria, he/she is eligible for ESY)

What are Extended School Year (ESY) Services?

  • Individualized instructional programs provided beyond the regular school year for students with disabilities
  • May be over any break from school, including summer, winter, spring or holiday breaks.
  • Eligibility is determined for each child with a disability and is not limited to specific types of disabilities.
  • ESY services must be
    • Individualized to the unique needs of each
      student (not one size fits all)
    • Inclusive of instructional and related services
      (therapies, transportation, transition services,
    • Provided in the least restrictive environment.

Why Have ESY?

  • In some cases, interruptions in the school schedule, such as summer break, will result in children with disabilities losing many of their basic skills and taking a long time to get those skills back once school begins again.
  • ESY services are provided during breaks in the educational schedule to prevent this loss.

ESY Settings

ESY provided in a variety of settings, including

  • General education summer school
  • Hospitals
  • In home
  • Community recreational and educational programs

ESY services must be provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). However, schools are not required to create new programs for nondisabled students, simply so that disabled students have an opportunity for integrated services.
Regardless of the setting or the services provided, ESY services must be provided free of cost to the student.

What happens if ESY is rejected?

  • Parents will receive a Prior Written Notice
  • Parents may request a written explanation of the ESY denial prior to leaving the IEP meeting
  • Parents may write a letter to the special education administrator listing their concerns
  • Parents may request a new IEP meeting to discuss the issue with added team members
  • Request mediation or a due process hearing

When during the year should ESY be considered?

  • The IEP committee decision to provide ESY services may be made at any point during the year
  • ESY must be considered at least at one IEP meeting every year
  • If a child’s IEP has already taken place, parents may request another meeting to consider ESY.
  • A determination of ESY needs must be made early enough to allow parents to appeal a denial of ESY services before the break in services occurs.

ESY is individualized to the unique needs of each student.

  • Not all students will require ESY – The IEP team considers the individual student’s needs
  • ESY is dependent on the student’s needs and goals as defined in the IEP the types of services, the number of weeks, days per week, and hours per day are based on each student’s unique needs.
  • The school district may not force the student into a fixed-length or one size fits all program
  • All services are dependent on the child’s unique needs

Extended School Year Services (ESY)Services must be provided if need is demonstrated in

  • Academic skills (or, for pre-K students, developmentally appropriate pre-academic skills)
  • Communication
  • Independent functioning and self-sufficiency
  • Social/emotional or behavioral skills, as they relate to critical life functions.
  • If an IEP team determines that a student needs an extended school year (or any other special education or related services), an administrator cannot override the team’s decision.
  • The amount and type of services must be appropriate to meet IEP goals.

When during the year should ESY be considered?

  • The IEP committee decision to provide ESY services may be made at any point during the year
  • ESY must be considered at least at one IEP meeting every year
  • If a child’s IEP has already taken place, parents may request another meeting to consider ESY.
  • A determination of ESY needs must be made early enough to allow parents to appeal a denial of ESY services before the break in services occurs.

Documentation of ESY

  • A new or different IEP does not have to be developed for ESY
  • Goals for ESY services should be specific to the needs of the student during the period in which services are provided
  • Typically, goals, including benchmarks and short-term objectives will be an extension of those on the current plan.
  • New goals may be necessary in some instances.

What ESY criteria is inappropriate?


  • Child care
  • Respite care
  • Intended to maximize educational opportunity or potential growth
  • Based on the specific area of disability, level of service, or type of classroom placement
  • One size fits all
  • The desire or need for other programs or services that while they may provide educational benefit, are not required to ensure the provision of a free appropriate public education.
  • A longer school day.


  1. Regression – whether the student reverts to a lower level of functioning as evidenced by a measurable decrease in skills or behaviors which occurs as a result of interruption in educational programming.
  2. Recoupment – whether the student has the capacity to recover the skills or behavior patterns in which regression occurred to a level demonstrated prior to the interruption of educational programming.
  3. Whether the student’s difficulties with regression and recoupment make it unlikely that the student will maintain the skills and behaviors relevant to IEP goals and objectives.
  4. The extent to which the student has mastered and consolidated an important skill or behavior at the point when educational programming would be interrupted (emergent skill).
  5. The extent to which a skill or behavior is particularly crucial for the student to meet the IEP goals of self sufficiency and independence.
  6. The extent to which successive interruptions in educational programming result in a student’s withdrawal from the learning process.
  7. Whether the nature of the student’s disability is severe, such as autism/PDD, developmental disorder, Intellectual Delay, severe multiple disabilities.

Decision Making Process

Step 1

Gather information regarding student progress (especially after breaks in the school schedule).

Step 2

Make the determination regarding ESY eligibility at an IEP team meeting.

Step 3

Document the ESY determination on the IEP.

Step 4

Issue the Prior Written Notice.

Reliable Sources of Information

  • Progress on goals in consecutive IEPs
  • Progress reports maintained by educators, therapists, and others having direct contact with the student before and after interruptions
  • Reports by parents of negative changes in adaptive behaviors or in other skill areas
  • Medical or other agency reports indicating degenerative-type difficulties, which become exacerbated during breaks in educational services
  • Results of tests

Information on the IEP

  • Description of the type and amount of ESY services (reference IEP goal)
  • Projected beginning dates and anticipated duration of service (i.e. June 5 – 30, 4 weeks)
  • Frequency ( e.g.: 1 time a week for goal of speech and language)
  • Location (Elementary school)

New Prior Written Notice must be issued if

  • Proposing to add ESY services to an IEP that previously did not have it
  • Deleting the provision of ESY services from an IEP that previously did have it
  • Refusing to initiate the provision of ESY services requested by the parent

ESY Service Delivery Models

  • The IEP team must determine the appropriate service delivery model based on the needs of the individual student.
  • LEAs ( the schools) are not required to create new programs merely to provide ESY services in integrated settings if they do not provide services at that time for non-disabled children.

Service Delivery Models

  • May be individual or group instruction
  • Must be delivered in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)
  • May be delivered by the district of residence or contracted through another agency
  • May be related services as well as instructional goals

Parent Strategy Making the Case for ESY Consideration

  • Prepare for the Annual IEP
  • Talk to your child’s teachers, therapists, aides and outside experts
  • Review a copy of the annual IEP
  • Review progress monitoring reports to see whether or not child is progressing
  • Write a summary of your concerns and your child’s needs and goals
  • Include any independent evaluations or reports
  • Make informed decisions toward goal progress for ESY

Polk County Public Schools ESY Services

  • The District strives to provide individualized ESY services to all ESY-eligible students, including services outside of the District’s typical ESY schedule where necessary to ensure FAPE. If necessary ESY services cannot be provided within the District’s typical schedule, individual arrangements will be made to provide the additional or different services to the student.
  • To advance this goal, an alternative or additional IEP team meeting may be scheduled to discuss ESY to allow greater focus on ESY services and to facilitate the arrangement of those services which are outside of the typical schedule.
  • It is important to remember that the District’s typical ESY schedule does not limit the ESY services that may be provided. The starting point is always the individual needs of a student, and the District is committed to arranging other or different ESY services where a student needs services outside the typical ESY schedule for FAPE.

How do I request an ESY determination?

Reach out to your child’s school and request an IEP meeting.