Does the school have any obligation to help your child transition from the school setting out into the world when they are done with school? A few things to know about Transition Planning…
Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) it is required that older students with individualized education programs (IEPs) include a plan for a coordinated set of services designed to move special education students successfully from school to post-school settings (34 CFR 300.1 and 34 CFR 300.43).
The IDEA requires transition services to begin no later than the first IEP before a student’s 16th birthday; however, the IDEA allows IEP teams to begin transition services earlier (34 CFR 300.320 (b)).
The IDEA defines transition services as a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
Is designed to be within a results-oriented process that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to post-school activities, including postsecondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
Is based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests; and
Includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, if appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation (34 CFR 300.43).
Under section 34 CFR 300.43, the IDEA states that “transition services for children with disabilities may be special education, if provided as specially designed instruction, or a related service, if required to assist a child with a disability to benefit from special education.”
Under 34 CFR 300.320 (a)(7), the IEP must identify:
o The date the student will begin receiving the service.
o The frequency with which the service will be provided.
o The location at which the student will receive the service.
o How long the district will continue providing the service.
In order to avoid uncertainty, the IEP must clearly state the amount of services provided in the IEP so that the agency’s commitment of resources will be clear to parents and providers (71 Fed. Reg. 46,667 (2006). (R.E. v. New York City Dep’t of Educ. (2d Cir. 2012)).
An IEP team can proceed to consider transition services at a meeting not attended by the student, provided the student was invited. All the IDEA requires is that: “If the child does not attend the IEP Team meeting, the public agency must take other steps to ensure that the child’s preferences and interests are considered.” 34 CFR 300.321 (b)(2).
If your child has an IEP and is approaching the age of 16, it might be a good idea to start thinking what some realistic transitional goals would be to propose to the educational team and what services might be required in order to accomplish those goals.