June 2021 —
The MLO Minute: By Dennis McAndrews, Esq., Jennifer Grobe, Esq., Kimberly Caputo, Esq. and Nancy Potter, Esq. —
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) entitles all children with disabilities to “a free appropriate public education that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment, and independent living.” Unfortunately, our experience has been that meaningful planning for the individual student’s transition from school-age to adulthood too often remains the exception rather than the rule.
The child’s right to support for post-secondary success is reflected within the “Transition Services” section of their Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Transition services are defined as “a coordinated set of activities for [the] student…designed to be within a results oriented process…to facilitate the student’s movement from school to post school activities”.
Federal and state law now require that transition planning must be based on specific transition assessments, measurable goals, and community-based instruction and interventions that relate directly to the student’s emerging adult needs. Toward that end, we encourage families to become fully involved in transition planning and to identify specific community activities designed to move the child from school life to employment or post-secondary education. For some children, this may include parental efforts to obtain community-based employment partners who are willing to accept a student as an intern with a job coach and, where necessary, and instructional aide. We have seen these community-based employment relationships bloom into adult employment which provide magnificent levels of independence and self-sufficiency for young adults with disabilities.
And for students who will pursue post-secondary education, transition programs can be developed to ease the student’s movement to college, vocational school, and other learning opportunities. Transition planning may include the student applying for a 504 plan their post-secondary environment so they may receive the accommodations/supports they currently benefit from in their IEP. The student may also benefit from a college-skills course, self-advocacy skills instruction, or an assistive technology evaluation.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education is now conducting a survey with respect to the manner in which transition planning and services are provided in Pennsylvania. A link to the survey is as follows and we encourage our clients to participate in this process. https://fs25.formsite.com/3fHiZQ/tvvh0zzrca/index.html.
Our initial special education consultations are always free, and the great majority of our cases are handled without charge to families. If your child is experiencing inadequate transition programming, compensatory education or even tuition reimbursement may be appropriate remedies, and we look forward to assisting families with this process.