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(10.1) Does the school district have to help students with disabilities make the transition from high school to adult life?

(10.1) Does the school district have to help students with disabilities make the transition from high school to adult life?

Yes. Federal special education law requires that there be transitional planning services for students with disabilities regardless of which agencies provide support or educational services to the student. Beginning no later than the first Individualized Education Program (IEP) held after a student turns 16 (or younger if determined appropriate by the IEP team) and updated annually, the IEP must contain a statement of appropriate measurable postsecondary goals. The goals must be based on age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and independent living skills where appropriate. The IEP must also contain a statement of needed transition services for the student that focus on the student’s courses of study (such as participation in advanced- placement courses or a vocational education program). In addition, the IEP must contain, when appropriate, a statement of the interagency responsibilities. [20 United States Code (U.S.C.) Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A); 34 Code of Federal Regulations (C.F.R.) Secs. 300.320(b) & 300.321(b)(3).]

The purpose of the transition plan is to ensure that the student continues to receive the support needed, from the appropriate public and private agency / agencies, to continue vocational training, education services, or find and maintain the most independent level or employment possible. The plan should also address residential, social and recreational goals.

A coordinated transition-planning meeting (conducted as part of an IEP team meeting) should include representatives of agencies that would serve the student once the student graduates, or if they have not graduated, reaches the age of 22, various agencies provide continued educational support for students with disabilities since the school district is no longer responsible for their education. These include the Department of Rehabilitation (DR), the Regional Center, college disability service programs, as well as private agencies. Transitional planning will give you a greater opportunity to become familiar with these community resources. Do not take a passive role in the planning process.

Work with your school district to identify and work with the agencies that will assist your child as she reaches adulthood and independence.

The transition plan or statement of needed transition services in each IEP must include, where applicable, a statement of the responsibilities of other participating agencies. However, remember that the district remains ultimately responsible for ensuring that these services are provided. Therefore, if a participating agency stops providing an agreed upon service, the district must fulfill that obligation or responsibility, either directly or through contract or other arrangement. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1412(a)(12)(B).] The district must also have another IEP meeting to find a different way to meet the transition objectives in the IEP. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.324(c).]