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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

IDEA, LRE, and Transitions

Nirvi Shah writes at Education Week:
Too often, when students with disabilities are moving from school to the workplace—a phase typically called transition—some of the basic tenets of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are ignored, said Jeff Spitzer-Resnick, managing attorney for Disability Rights Wisconsin.
That includes being placed in the least restrictive environment—in other words, with nondisabled peers to the extent possible.
"We have long been concerned that children with disabilities in general were not getting what they needed in transition," he said. For too long, "transition" meant a pipeline to work in a segregated environment, often at so-called sheltered workshops, which typically pay less than minimum wage, he said, "without any real conversation about whether this was appropriate. What about a job coach? What about assistive technology? [These are] all the things they consider for the classroom environment?
While the problem is a stubborn one, in part because work options in some communities are limited in general and in part because of a lack of teacher training about transition, Spitzer-Resnick said there's hope.
A letter from the U.S. Department of Education to his organization last month about this issue emphasizes that the tenets of IDEA do apply to transition.