School Districts Must Provide Realistic Work Experiences for Disabled Students’ Transition Plans
By Dean Beer, Esquire
34 CFR 300.43 requires Districts to provide students over the age of sixteen with transition services. These services, when appropriate, must include community participation to develop potential employment skills. In a hearing, Horizon Instructional Systems Charter School, 58 IDELR 145 (2012) a hearing officer found that the district’s offer of the fictional equivalent of a real world job failed to satisfy the IDEA’s community employment and experiences requirement. As with many students, the district provided an employment-opportunity-“like” setting in the school district itself. The district in this case provided a mock job and other instruction in a teacher’s office.
The hearing officer found that it was unlikely that Congress, when drafting plans for the transition of students with disabilities from the campus to the outside world have substituted the campus itself for the outside world. Artificial protected settings permitting the student to systematically practice skills did not afford him the opportunity to use them in the real world. The hearing officer found that the student had been denied FAPE for the failure to address his needs for vocational training and community experience.
Tips for Parents of Transition Age Students:
- Require the District to individualize post-secondary transition goals. Many times, Districts offer general and vague goals with regards to transition services.
- Require the District to determine the needs and desires of the student and align those needs and desires with specific work opportunities. While some transition skills can be learned on campus, each particular case should be looked at to determine if is appropriate for your child. Of course, some students may need to learn skills on campus prior to going into the real world situation. Again this should be done on an individualized basis and monitored closely.
- Try to build a relationship with your IEP team with regards to transition and career planning. You should start discussing transition plans before it is required in the IEP.
- If you keep the lines of communication open between the district and yourself, the district will better understand what your child needs and how to provide it both safely and efficiently.
- Ask your District to create a community resource map in order to better align postsecondary programs and services for the students. This is a benefit both to students and to the district teachers who have to provide these off-campus community experiences.
- In addition to the work skills that your child will be need for post-secondary opportunities, other skills may be needed. A child may need to learn to use public transportation, cross the street, and order food in a cafeteria. All essential skills should be looked at in transition planning.
Transition plans should be individualized and provide a meaningful transition from school to post secondary opportunities. If you are concerned with your child’s transition plan, contact my office to further discuss.