“United States Department of Education Hold Least Restrictive Environment Mandate
Applies to Transition Programs”
The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services of the United States Department of Education issued a recent OSERS Letter which holds that IEP teams must comply with the mandate of Least Restrictive Environment in developing transition plans and assigning work placements to students. McAndrews Law Office has been a leader in pursuing community based transition programs, including placements in local businesses with job coaches or aides, and this OSERS Letter can assist our work in these endeavors.
The OSERS Letter states that “If an IEP team determines that work placement is an appropriate transition service for child, it must be included in child’s IEP,” and notes that “the LRE provisions would apply equally to the employment portion of the student’s program and placement.” The OSERS Letter adds that “When an IEP team includes a work placement as part of student’s transition services, the IEP team must consider, and include in the IEP, as appropriate, any supplementary aids and services needed to enable the student to participate with other students with disabilities and non disabled students in the work placement described in the IEP.”
Finally, the OSERS Letter sets out that an IEP “must include appropriate measurable post secondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and, where appropriate, independent living skills” and notes that “specific transition assessments” must be used to “determine appropriate measurable post-secondary goals”.
This OSERS Letter should be cited to schools districts and hearing officers whenever advocating for supports in employment based transition services in a least restrictive setting.