The MLO Minute, By Nancy Potter, Esq.
This fall, the U.S. Department of Education made clear that vocational rehabilitation (VR) and Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) funds can be used to support dual enrollment, comprehensive transition and other postsecondary education programs for students with disabilities. IDEA funds need only be provided by a school district if those courses are required to provide FAPE and are expressly included in a student’s IEP.
The Department produced a question and answer (Q&A) guide issued jointly by the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS) and the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE). The guide describes how State educational agencies, local educational agencies, and State VR agencies may coordinate to assist students and youth with disabilities preparing for postsecondary success.
Specifically, the Q&A addresses the following topics:
- The opportunity for students with disabilities to enroll in postsecondary education programs while still in high school;
- The opportunity for students and youth with disabilities to enroll in comprehensive transition and other postsecondary programs for individuals with disabilities after leaving high school;
- The coordination of transition-related services that students with disabilities may receive under the IDEA and under the VR program; and
- The financial aid available to students with disabilities enrolled in comprehensive transition and postsecondary education programs for students with intellectual disabilities offered at Institutions of Higher Education under the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended.
The participation of a student with a disability who has an IEP under the IDEA in a dual enrollment program while in high school could be addressed through the transition services component of the student’s IEP. In Pennsylvania, beginning with the first IEP to be in effect when a student turns 14, and updated annually thereafter, each student’s IEP must include: (i) appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills; and (ii) the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the student in reaching those goals. 20 U.S.C. § 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII) and 34 C.F.R. §§ 300.320(b) and 300.321(b).
Transition plans for students can certainly include dual enrollment and, if the student’s IEP Team determine that the courses offered as part of a dual enrollment program are necessary to provide the student with FAPE, those cost for such course work is the responsibility of the student’s school district. School districts must ensure that the services that are included in a student’s IEP that are deemed necessary for the provision of FAPE to the student are provided at public expense and at no cost to the parents, and the school district may pay for those services with IDEA funds.
The full Q&A is available here: Link