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(10.10) What should a transition program for older students contain?

(10.10) What should a transition program for older students contain?

Ideally, these programs should lead students to outcomes which maximize independence. For some students, the goal will be to move toward post-secondary education. For others, the goal may involve community-based programs such as adult integrated work programs. In that case, school staff supports the student to obtain and maintain an integrated job near her home so that she can be integrated in the community. In that case, the student should be hired directly by the employer.  The individual is on the employer’s payroll, not paid through a subcontract with the school. Additionally, if a student works part-time, transition staff can assist her to take integrated, regular college or adult education classes; join fitness centers; and participate in everyday community activities, such as shopping, public transportation, movies, library, adult sports, etc.

Transition planning must be active on the part of the district. In one case, a  hearing officer found a clear failure on the part of the district to provide  appropriate transition services when the IEP contained only two informal activities (the student was to investigate college catalogs and write to colleges for more information). In addition, the hearing officer found that such a transition plan could not have been based on the student’s individual needs because the student tested significantly below grade level in all areas and would need far more extensive services than simply being told to investigate colleges on her own. [Student v. San Francisco Unified Sch. Dist., Case No. SN 476-98 (Special Education Hearing Office) (1998), available at www.oah.dgs.ca.gov.]

Districts have responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in the area of transition planning and services which must be fulfilled prior to exiting a student from high school. The IDEA’s transition planning and services provisions create a separate substantive entitlement for special education students. The components of transition are: instruction, related services, community experience and 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. [Student v. Novato Unified School Dist., Case No. SN 886-94 (1995); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.43.] Vocational and social instruction should take place in the community as much as possible.

A student may have completed the district’s prescribed course of study and passed the necessary proficiency tests. Even under these circumstances, if the school has not provided appropriate and individualized transition services, she may continue to be eligible for special education services. [See Student v. Bellflower Unified School Dist., Case No. SN 575-01.]