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NC Education Lawyer Blog

  • Writer's pictureNeubia Harris

Oh The Places You'll Go: Transition Services

Adapted from Special Education Connection - SmartStart FAPE: Transition Services

Under the 2006 IDEA Part B regulations, transitional services are defined as a set of activities for a child with a disability that

● Is results oriented, focused on improving academic and functional activities of the child from school to post-school activities (i.e. post-secondary education, employment, independent living); and

● Is based on child’s needs while incorporating their strengths, preferences and interests.

In essence, transition services are services for students with disabilities that enable them to progress from school to post-secondary activities and life. Transition services assists students with disabilities with entering the workforce, continuing education or training, and living as independently, if possible. Transition services provide students with disabilities with the tools and skills needed to seek, obtain and maintain employment, as appropriate. Transition services may be special education if provided as specifically designed instruction or related service in a students’ Individual Education Program (“IEP”).

Extension of Services

Transition services is a loose term that includes vocational rehabilitation and career training. Furthermore, transition services address various other needs including, without limitation, academic/lifelong learning, workplace skills, daily living skills, health and physical care, money management, and social skills.

IEP Development and Goals

While IEP teams must consider transition services and post-secondary goals once a student turns 16 years old, IEP teams can begin transition services earlier than 16. Beginning at age 16 or younger if determined by the IEP team, an IEP must include:

● Appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals based on age-appropriate transition assessments;

● Transition services to assist in reaching those goals; and

● Transition plan goals should take into consideration the student’s strengths, weaknesses, and interests.

A students’ IEP progress report should include the student’s progress with post-secondary goals in addition to academic and functional goals. School districts are not permitted to exclude postsecondary employment goals based solely on the type of disability the student has. Public charter schools are also responsible for the development and implementation of the transition plans for students with disabilities.

Outside Agencies

If an IEP meeting will discuss postsecondary goals and transition services, with proper parental consent and when appropriate, a representative from an agency that will be providing or paying for services must be present.

When determining whether an outside agency’s presence is necessary at an IEP meeting, consider the following:

● If the outside agency is paying for or providing services;

● Whether parental consent has been obtained (even if an agency representative will not be attending);

● The purpose of the IEP meeting;

● The potential liability of outside agencies ; and

● The district’s ability to prevent disclosing personally identifying information.

Implementation of Transition Services

It is the responsibility of the district, not the parent, to ensure implementation of transition plans. Districts must provide transition services even if the demographics of the local area make it difficult to do such (i.e. finding cooperative agencies or developing relationships with potential employers). Transition services may be provided in coordination or simultaneously with other IEP services.

Transition Related Services Required

A student’s IEP team determines the transition services needed to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to that student based on the student’s needs, not the student’s disability.

Funding for Transition Related Services

The Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015 states that each state education agency (“SEA”) must reserve not less than 15 percent and not more than 30 percent of the amount the agency receives under Title I for any fiscal year to support:

● Projects that support the transition of youth between state operated institutions, institutions operated by the Secretary of the Interior, schools served by local education agencies (LEAs), or schools operated and funded by the Bureau of Indian Education; and

● The reentry of youth offenders with a high school diploma, into postsecondary education or other programs with the goal of preparing the youth for postsecondary programs and training (i.e. pre placement programs that allow the youth to attend courses at colleges, universities or other institutional programs, worksite schools, essential support services).



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