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CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006/PP.

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Issues in Transition Planning:


Legal Decisions

SUSAN ETSCHEIDT The purpose of this article is to identify legal issues concerning the
transition planning process through a qualitative analysis of adminis-
trative and judicial decisions addressing transition services for students
with disabilities. The issues that emerged from the analysis were cate-
gorized into five prevalent themes: agency contacts, student involve-
ment, individualization of the transition plan, district obligations, and
appropriateness of the transition plan. The themes included both
procedural and substantive components. Changes in the newly reau-
thorized Individuals with Disabilities Education Act are discussed,
and implications for policy and practice are presented.

tifying courses of study by the time the child reaches 14

T
he successful transition of students with disabili-
ties from school to postschool environments is a years of age and by developing interagency responsibil-
priority for both parents and school districts. ities or linkages by the time the child reaches 16 years of
When the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act age (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(A)(vii)).
(IDEA) was reauthorized in 1997, the purpose of the IDEAs focus on transition represents an acknowl-
legislation was to ensure that all children with disabili- edgment of and continuous efforts to improve the low
ties have available to them a free appropriate public ed- graduation rates and dismal postschool achievements
ucation (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and of students with disabilities (Blackorby & Wagner,
related services designed to meet their unique needs and 1996). Yet achieving these mandates has been slow and
prepare them for employment and independent living inconsistent, as evidenced by the difficulties young
(20 U.S.C. 1401(d)(1)(A)). Transition services were adults with disabilities face in securing postsecondary
defined as a coordinated set of activities designed with success (Johnson, Stodden, Emanuel, Luecking, & Mack,
an outcome-oriented process to promote the childs 2002). In response to these difficulties, the 2004 reau-
movement from school to postschool activities. These thorization of IDEA changed the definition of transi-
services might include postsecondary education, voca- tion services from an outcome-oriented process to a
tional training, integrated employment, continuing and results-oriented process that is focused on improving
adult education, adult services, independent living, or the academic and functional achievement of the child
community participation (20 U.S.C. 1401(30)(A)). (20 U.S.C. 1414(c)(5)(B)(ii)). The Individuals with
The services were to be planned on the basis of the Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (IDEA
students needs, preferences, and interests (20 U.S.C. 2004) also requires the IEP team to include appropri-
1401(30)(B)) and may include instruction, related ate measurable postsecondary goals based upon age-
services, community experiences, the development of appropriate transition assessments related to training,
employment or postschool adult living objectives, ac- education, employment, and, where appropriate, inde-
quisition of daily living skills, or functional vocational pendent living skills (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)
evaluation (20 U.S.C. 1401(20)(C)). Transition ser- (aa)) and to specify the transition services (including
vices were to be specified in the students Individualized courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching
Education Program (IEP). IDEA required that IEP teams those goals (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII)(bb)).
address the transition services needs of a child by iden- The local education agency must also provide a sum-
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006 29

mary of the childs academic and functional perfor- emotional or behavioral disorders (n = 4), autism or As-
mance when IDEA services are terminated due to grad- perger syndrome (n = 4), multiple disabilities (n = 4),
uation or age-eligibility (20 U.S.C. 1414(c)(B)(ii)). physical disabilities (n = 3), other health impaired (n = 2),
These changes included in IDEA 2004 are clear efforts attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (n = 2), trau-
to improve postsecondary outcomes for students with matic brain injury (n = 1), and other or unspecified (n =
disabilities. 3). The majority of decisions involved male students (n =
Implementing these transition mandates is a com- 24), with females less represented (n = 12). Each case
plex and multidimensional process (Hasazi, Furney, & was read by the author, who identified key words and
DeStefano, 1999). Many parents have been dissatisfied phrases concerning transition plans or transition proc-
with the transition planning process and have sought esses. Examples of key words and phrases were outside
judicial relief. As a result, the adequacy of transition ser- agencies, individualized, provided a free and appropriate
vices for students with disabilities currently represents a public education (FAPE), procedural errors, and student
significant area of litigation. The purpose of this article invited. Four categories emerged from repeated read-
is to identify the issues of concern through an analysis ings of the cases and an ongoing analysis of key words
of administrative and judicial decisions addressing tran- and phrases. The author further defined the categories
sition services for students with disabilities. through a constant comparative method (LeCompte &
Preissle, 1993; Patton, 2001) and coded the cases by cat-
egories and subcategories as the analysis progressed.
METHOD Following individual case analyses, a cross-case analysis
was conducted, in which the categories and subcate-
The analysis was conducted to discern issues concern- gories identified for each case were compared and con-
ing transition plans addressed in administrative and trasted across all cases included in the analysis.
judicial decisions. Published decisions from adminis-
trative hearings, district courts, and appellate courts
were accessed from an online database, LRP Education RESULTS
Research Library. This database includes decisions that
are published in the Individuals with Disabilities Educa- The issues involved in transition planning were catego-
tion Law Report (IDELR). The database was searched rized into five prevalent themes: agency contacts, stu-
from 1997, when transition requirements were amended dent involvement, individualization of the transition
in a reauthorization of IDEA, through the December plan, district obligations, and appropriateness of the
2004 reauthorization. The topical index was accessed, transition plan.
and cases indexed under the subject transition plan/
transition services were reviewed. A separate search of
Agency Contacts
the database using the general descriptors of transition
plan, transition services, and transition yielded a total of IDEA requires IEP teams to involve other agencies that
36 cases. Cases pertaining to transitions from an Indi- may provide or pay for transition services during both
vidualized Family Service Plan (ISFP) to an IEP or tran- school and postschool (34 C.F.R. 300.344(b)(3)(i)). If
sitions from one placement to another were omitted. an agency that has been invited to send a representative
Only those decisions addressing school-to-postschool to a meeting does not do so, the IEP team should take
transition plans and processes were included. other steps to obtain participation of the agency in the
planning of any transition services (34 C.F.R. 300.344(b)
(3)(i)). Failure to invite agencies to IEP meetings has re-
SAMPLE AND ANALYSIS sulted in decisions against school districts (see Appen-
dix). The decisions designated as SEA in the Agency
The purposive sample for this policy analysis repre- Contacts section of the Appendix represent administra-
sented 36 published decisions from predominately tive due process decisions. Those decisions with ED des-
state-level administrative decisions (n = 31), with 5 dis- ignations are district court decisions.
trict court rulings. The students involved in the cases In Independent School District No. 0011, Anoka-
were described by primary disability, which consisted of Hennepin (2000), parents procuring the services of a
mental disabilities (n = 8), learning disabilities (n = 5), county social worker did not relieve the school district
30 CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006

of its obligation to invite representatives of other agen- meetings to plan transition services (34 C.F.R. 300.344
cies that might be involved in paying for or providing (b)(1)). If the student does not attend, the school dis-
transition services. The hearing officer concluded that trict must take other steps to ensure that the students
despite independent contacts initiated by parents, the preferences and interests are considered (4 C.F.R.
school district is obligated to invite representatives and 300.344(b)(2)). The decisions addressing student
must take steps to obtain and ensure participation of input are presented in the Appendix. Analysis revealed
other agencies in the planning and transition process that an absence of good faith efforts to involve students
(102 LRP 7,054). The administrative law judge in Wash- in transition planning resulted in decisions against the
ington Township Board of Education (1999) determined school district. For example, in Caribou School De-
that the school district failed to invite agencies likely to partment (2001), the student was not adequately in-
provide or pay for transition services for a 20-year-old volved in the transition planning process. The hearing
student with multiple disabilities, nor did the district officer concluded:
attempt to put [the students] parents in contact with
[the agency] (102 LRP 11891). This student had been basically set adrift and
Although invitations must be extended, scheduling expected to determine his own needs, assess
conflicts may preclude attendance by agency represen- his own college and career plans, choose his
tatives. The IEP, however, must document both the con- own courses and, from age fourteen on, just
tact and any agreed-upon services. In Travis Pace v. the with the schools responsibility regarding tran-
Bogalusa City School Board (2001), the parents alleged sition planning begins, be his own advocate.
that the school district had not invited other agencies to (35 IDELR 118)
the students transition planning meetings. The district
court held that the school district had contacted ap- The hearing officer also admonished the district for
propriate state and local agencies to assist in providing pointing to the students graduation as a measure of
transition services, although scheduling conflicts had FAPE and educational benefit, warning that transition
prevented a rehabilitation counselor from attending the planning . . . must be more than graduation (35 IDELR
meetings. The IEP had included responsibilities de- 118). The student was awarded college tuition, inciden-
scribed as school action steps and family action steps tal costs of college attendance, and tutorial services. In
pertaining to transition services. The administrative law Sheridan School District (1999), a 16-year-old student
judge in Fulton County School System (1999) clarified was not invited to an IEP meeting at which the school
that failure to invite outside agencies to transition plan- district determined that no transition services were
ning would be violative only if it actually results in sub- needed. No attempts were made to ensure that her pref-
stantial deprivation to the student (29 IDELR 1031). erences or interests were considered. The school district
Because the parents in this case had refused services was ordered to develop a corrective action plan for train-
from the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, it ing staff on transition planning, including how to ob-
was not likely that the Department would be responsi- tain student participation at IEP meetings and how to
ble for providing or paying for the students transition determine when transition services are needed. The dis-
services. Moreover, the district had coordinated with trict was ordered to submit a roster of staff attending
the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation and other the training as well as the training materials. (See also
agencies in addressing the students postschool needs. Eastern Howard School Corporation/Kokomo Area Spe-
School districts must invite agencies that may pro- cial Education Cooperative [1997], which ordered the
vide or pay for transition services to IEP meetings. If school district to reconvene an IEP meeting for transi-
representatives are unable to attend, the school district tion planning and invite and include the student.)
must take other steps to obtain participation and coor- Considering student interests and preferences does
dination of services. not obligate school districts to acquiesce to student-
preferred plans if the district-proposed transition plan
is appropriate. The parent of a 14-year-old student with
Student Involvement
autism argued that the school district had unilaterally
IDEA Amendments of 1997 specifically required that all determined elective courses without regard for the stu-
students ages 14 years and older who receive special ed- dents preferences (Brodhead School District, 2003). The
ucation and related services be invited to attend IEP administrative law judge determined that the selection
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006 31

of courses was based on student preference, the students needs. Decisions concerning the individualization of
need for team-taught courses, and the students sched- transition plans are presented in the Appendix. In Put-
ule. Both parent and student had been included in IEP man Board of Education (2003), the students transition
meetings to determine specific courses. The parents plans did not reflect his need for social and interper-
claim that the plan was deficient in not listing specific sonal support. The hearing officer concluded that the
courses for the following 4 years was rejected because needs of the student did not fall within traditional
the students postschool vision was still evolving. The academic realms and required self-management strat-
student in Madison Metropolitan School District (2002) egies that (the student) will need in order to deal effec-
expressed a strong interest in a performing arts pro- tively with postschool relationships as well as the types
gram, and his mother requested a vocational placement of job and interpersonal stress with which he has already
there. The students IEP specified daily living skills, vo- demonstrated an inability to cope (103 LRP 57492).
cational awareness, and adaptive behavior goals, as well The school district was ordered to hire an independent
as vocational training (on-the-job training, paid em- consultant to oversee the development and implemen-
ployment, and supervised independent housing). The tation of appropriate transition plans and determine the
administrative law judge concluded that a transitional duration of the services provided to the student. In East
service plan is not the same thing as an adult vocational Penn School District v. Scott B. (1999), the student was
placement (37 IDELR 26) and that the schools IEP not evaluated for transition planning and was provided
clearly identified a plan of services designed to promote only vocational education. The district court held that
movement to postschool activities. the transition plan failed to address the students indi-
Although student invitation is a procedural require- vidual and unique needs and placed the student into
ment, failure to invite students was excused if student existing generic programs with some minor adapta-
interests and preferences were considered in transition tions (29 IDELR 1058). By offering only generic vo-
planning. Although the student in San Francisco Unified cational education, the court found the transition
School District and San Francisco Community Mental program to be woefully lacking the full panoply of
Health (1998) was not invited to the IEP meeting to dis- services that transition planning envisions . . . such as
cuss transition planning, the goals and transition ac- how [the student] will get around in the community,
tivities were based on her needs. Transition activities, how he will meet his personal needs, and what recre-
however, were only included in her 11th-grade IEP and ation opportunities he should strive for (29 IDELR
involved only informal, student-initiated activities, such 1058). The parent was awarded 608 hours of compen-
as investigating college catalogs and writing for infor- satory education. A hearing officer in Lancaster Inde-
mation to select a college program. The hearing officer pendent School District (1998) determined that the
concluded that no active transition planning was pro- career information provided to the student would not
vided by the district, that the student required far more assist the student in the transition from school to adult-
extensive transition services than what the district was hood, given the nature of his disabilities. The transition
offering, and that simply stating that a student with services were offered only in the last semester of high
significant learning disabilities will look into colleges school and were not individualized to meet his unique
herself is not providing needed transition services needs: It was unreasonable to expect a student operat-
(29 IDELR 153). ing on a sixth grade level, in his strongest subjects, who
Student input must be solicited in the development had never taken a [achievement test] to make prepara-
of transition plans and services. IEP teams are required tions to take the SAT or ACT. It was unreasonable to ex-
to consider the students interests and preferences in pect a student who had held only a series of entry level
transition planning, but they do not necessarily need to jobs to be able to act on information on how to start a
endorse all student-preferred activities. The transition cosmetology business (29 IDELR 281). The school dis-
plan must be appropriate and based on students inter- trict did not consider recommendations from an inde-
ests and needs. pendent consultant suggesting that an evaluation be
conducted to determine the students need for counsel-
ing as a transition service. The school district was or-
Individualization of the Transition Plan
dered to provide the recommended counseling services
Transition plans must be based on transition assessment and to conduct the evaluation to determine which addi-
results and individualized to meet each students unique tional transition services were needed.
32 CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006

The decision in Appleton Area School District (1998) program calculated to benefit the student was met. Sim-
highlighted the importance of matching transition plans ilarly, in Birmingham Public Schools (2003), parents were
to individualized needs of the student. Although the stu- dissatisfied with the various job placements facilitated
dent had participated in graduation ceremonies with by the school district and requested additional services.
her peers, the IEP team determined she needed addi- Although some placements were not successful, the
tional functional skill development, including telling transition planning had included attendance at a com-
time, using money, shopping for groceries, and caring munity college, placement at a technical center, assess-
for herself. The district proposed a combination pro- ment by a vocational services agency, and attempts to
gram in which the student would learn the skills at the find suitable employment placements. The hearing offi-
high school and then be involved in a community-based cer determined that the school district had met its re-
program where she could apply the skills. Due to her quirements under IDEA regarding the provision of
inability to transfer skills, the parents requested that the transition services. The parents of a high school student
entire program be offered in community-based settings. in Washoe County School District (2002) proposed a
The student had also indicated that she did not want to placement for their high school daughter at a magnet
return to the high school setting because her peers had school designed to prepare students for college. The
graduated. The administrative law judge concluded state hearing officer decided that the student would ben-
that the districts programs, though well-intentioned, efit from the traditional high schools program, which
failed to address the students individual needs and was designed to enable students to transition to life af-
preferences: The IDEA outlines a wide variety of ways ter high school by successfully meeting the social and
in which to achieve [transition goals]. Most, if not all of vocational goals as well as graduation requirements. The
the enumerated services can (and in some cases clearly school districts ultimate responsibility was to assure the
must) be provided to a student in a nonschool setting. provision of FAPE. In Wisconsin Dells School District
Moreover, a students needs, individual preferences, and (2001), the parent argued that the school district failed
interests are supposed to be considered in determining to provide adequate transition services because the stu-
the nature of the transitional services (27 IDELR 682). dent was not exposed to a variety of job experiences.
The school district was ordered to begin providing in- The school district introduced the student to a variety
struction to the student in real life settings rather than of school and community experiences and successfully
in artificial ones. transitioned the student from school to employment at
These decisions emphasize the importance of indi- a sheltered workshop. The administrative law judge
vidualizing transition plans on the basis of student need. concluded that the District was not required to pro-
Plans incongruent with student needs resulted in deci- vide every possible job experience but was required to
sions against school districts. provide job experiences that were based on his individ-
ual needs, taking into account his preferences and inter-
ests, and that is what they did (35 IDELR 145). Yet in
District Obligations
Susquehanna Township School District v. Jelani J. (2003),
School districts obligations concerning transition from the court rejected the school districts argument that its
school to postschool settings has been the focus of sev- transition obligations had been met by providing the
eral administrative actions (see Appendix). In North student with the opportunity and skills to apply to
Hunterdon/Voorhees Regional High Board of Education postsecondary programs. Pursuant to the IEP, the dis-
(2004), parents requested reimbursement for the uni- trict had agreed to provide a 1-year postsecondary col-
lateral placement of their 22-year-old son in a multiyear lege preparatory program, but the district had failed to
program focused on achieving successful transition provide that transition service. The district argued that
from school to community. The administrative law the obligation was to promote opportunity, not to ob-
judge determined that IDEA required the school dis- tain or pay for the postschool placement. The court held
trict to promote or put students on a path to indepen- that such efforts were de minimis (i.e., insignificant) and
dent living (41 IDELR 171) but did not require the did not meet the IDEA requirements.
school district to ensure that the goal of employment or To provide FAPE, school districts are required to de-
independent living was achieved. Because the school velop transition plans to promote the movement from
district had offered the student genuine chances to ex- school to postschool settings. These decisions show that
plore options beyond high school, its duty to provide a school districts are not responsible for job placement or
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006 33

postschool success, but they must provide appropriate of the travel mobility training. The decision favored the
and genuine supports and services. school district, finding the student had successfully met
IEP goals of travel safety and traveling with adult assis-
tance. The student in Bret Harte Union High School
Appropriateness of the Transition Plan
(1999) alleged the transition plan to move him from
Most of the decisions included in the analysis concerned school to college was inadequate, but the hearing officer
the appropriateness of transition plans(see Appendix). found that the school district provided junior college
The parent of an 18-year-old student with Down syn- connections, obtained the services of an independent
drome alleged that an inappropriate reading program vocational counselor, and contacted the department of
was a barrier to the students transition to postschool rehabilitation as well as a learning disabilities specialist
employment and living (San Diego Unified School Dis- at the college. The plan was deemed to have provided
trict, 2002). The school district program focused on FAPE (see also Elmhurst School District 205 [2000], in
learning sight words that the student would encoun- which a students IEP included appropriate transition
ter in the community and reading first-grade books. goals).
The hearing officer ruled that no one in the district In several cases, procedural errors were excused if
taught the student the reading skills needed for sup- the transition services provided to students were suf-
ported employment and independent living, including ficient. For example, in Half-Hollow Hills Central School
job applications, job descriptions, medical prescrip- District (2001), a student with autism was enrolled in
tions, telephone directories, bus schedules, maps, movie keyboarding, crafts, business math, introduction to oc-
and television schedules, store prices, and food labels cupations, and principles of work courses. The school
(38 IDELR 172). The parent was awarded a 1-year inde- district also explored a number of possible vocational
pendent study program beyond graduation to instruct settings, arranged for a half-day vocational program,
the student in reading material related to job descrip- and consulted an expert in autism to assist in the prepa-
tions, job applications, other job-related information, ration of the students transition plan. The state review
and independent living. After graduating from high officer determined that although the IEP lacked a for-
school, the student in Thornton Fractional Township mal statement of transition service needs, the student
High School District #128 (2002) had two job experi- received a useful program of important skills, which
ences before being laid off; he then decided to apply to a would be needed for success in school and postschool
technical school. He failed the entrance exam. The tech- employment, as well as independent living as an adult
nical school was unaware of his learning disability, and (35 IDELR 169). In Arlington Central School District
no accommodations were provided for the exam. The (1998), a state review officer concluded that although
hearing officer decided that the school district failed to the students IEP did not include a statement of transi-
evaluate the student to determine transition supports tion services, the school district provided appropriate
or services necessary to enroll him in a technical school, transition services designed to address his postschool
which had consistently been identified as the students needs. The school district had invited the student and
postschool vision. The student was awarded a 36-week parent to the IEP meeting to plan transition services
compensatory tutorial program (see also Livermore Val- and included the students interests and preferences in
ley Joint Unified School District [2000], in which failure the selection of transition services. The services pro-
to plan and fund expressive communication aids pro- vided by the district consisted of interest-based course-
hibited the student from utilizing the posthigh school work, vocational training, and community living and
programs agreed to by the IEP team; Portland School work experiences. Failure to include a statement of these
District [1999], in which failure to provide instruction services in the IEP was a technical defect that did not
related to use of city bus system denied FAPE). deprive the student of FAPE or prevent parent or stu-
Conversely, if the transition plans offered to stu- dent participation in the planning process (see also
dents provided FAPE, requests for extended programs Board of Education of the City School District of the City
or compensatory education were denied. Although the of New York [1999], in which a lack of a transition plan
bulk of a students transition program was not in dis- was excused because the student received an appropri-
pute in Los Angeles Unified School District (2001), the ate transition to a day habilitation program; Houston
parent sought an additional year in the community- Independent School District [1999], in which the dis-
based instruction program due to the inappropriateness tricts failure to include transition plans in IEP for a
34 CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006

16-year-old student did not deny FAPE because he was requires the agreement to include the identification of fi-
receiving benefits and services to prepare him for col- nancial responsibility, reimbursement conditions, coordi-
lege and the district had attempted to arrange a meeting nation or service procedures, and methods for resolving
to plan services but the parent resisted; School Adminis- interagency disputes [20 U.S.C. 1412(a)(12)(A)]. The
trative District #1 [1997], in which the student received Rehabilitation Act requires delineation of roles and re-
a variety of appropriate transition services through a sponsibilities for transition services, including financial
guidance counselor, although a formalized transition obligations, consultation with education agencies to
plan had not been developed in timely manner; Musco- plan postschool activities, transition planning for IEPs,
gee County School System [1997], which found that fail- and procedures for outreach and identification of stu-
ure to update the transition plan due to disagreement dents with disabilities who need transition services
concerning vocational placement did not deny FAPE). (29 U.S.C. 101(a)(11)(D)). The state education agency
The failure to provide transition services has con- is responsible for providing and paying for transition
sistently been viewed as a violation of the substantive services for students eligible under IDEA, and the state
requirement of IDEA. Such failure denies students a vocational rehabilitation agency is responsible for pro-
FAPE and results in tuition reimbursement and com- viding and paying for services agreed to in an eligible
pensatory education (see Board of Education of the Ar- individuals Individualized Plan for Employment (IPE;
lington Central School District [2001]; T. F. v. North Penn Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services,
School District [1999]; St. Paul ISD #615 [1998]; Bonita 2000).
Unified School District [1998]). A 1996 study by the U.S. Department of Education
found that approximately 80% of students with disabil-
ities require adult services to achieve employment and
DISCUSSION independent living goals. Yet, interagency collaboration
remains fragmented nationwide (U.S. Department of
Agency Contacts Education, 1998). In a study investigating the proce-
The analysis revealed the need for school districts to ini- dural compliance of 282 transition plans throughout
tiate contacts with postschool support agencies and to one state, Tillman and Ford (2001) found that only 30%
ensure that those agencies will be involved in students of the plans demonstrated linkages to community agen-
transition planning by the time the students are 16 years cies, despite the finding that 73% of the transition plans
old. Failure to efficiently coordinate postschool services indicated students needed employment assistance and
creates barriers to students achieving successful post- demonstrated other postschool-living needs. According
school results (Johnson et al., 2002). IEP teams must co- to Agran, Cain, and Cavin (2002), although rehabilita-
ordinate postsecondary education supports with other tion counselors play a pivotal role in adult services for
community services, such as health, human services, many students, special education teachers reported that
and transportation (Stodden & Dowrick, 2000). Suc- those counselors were never or rarely invited to IEP
cessful interagency collaboration results in positive stu- transition meetings. The counselors frequently reported
dent outcomes, including high postschool referral rates that neither parents nor school districts contacted them
to adult services agencies and high employment rates as resources. Williams and OLeary (2001) reported that
(Hasazi, Furney, & DeStefano, 1999). special education teachers infrequently interacted with
The shared responsibility for agency planning was service providers and that the teachers were unfamiliar
clearly specified when transition services were first de- with the services offered by agencies and their referral
fined in the 1990 amendments to IDEA: The prepara- procedures. Furthermore, delineation of the responsi-
tion of students with disabilities for movement from bilities for the adult services agencies is often absent on
school to postschool environments [should] not be transition plans (Everson, Zhana, & Gillory, 2001).
the sole responsibility of public education but rather a The designation of a transition specialist to coordi-
shared responsibility (House of Representatives Re- nate interagency collaboration has been advocated as
port 101-544, 1990). Both IDEA and the Vocational Re- a crucial component of quality service coordination
habilitation Act of 1973 as amended in the Workforce (deFur & Taymans, 1995; Kohler, 1993). Implementa-
Investment Act of 1998 require a formal interagency tion and coordination of the IDEA mandates may best
agreement to specify the responsibilities of providing be achieved through an interdisciplinary leadership par-
transition services to individuals with disabilities. IDEA adigm (DeStefano, Heck, Hasazi, & Furney, 1999) that
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006 35

involves multiple agency participants dedicated to pro- school goals and vision and then discusses and docu-
viding quality services to individuals with disabilities. ments the students present level of performance and
transition service needs. The team formulates a state-
ment of needed transition services and develops annual
Student Involvement
goals and objectives for those needs and services. Plan-
In planning transition services, the students input must ning successful transition programs requires schools to
be solicited. IDEA specifically requires that all special follow the mandates of IDEA, individualize transition
education students be invited to attend IEP meetings to services, and monitor implementation of transition plans
plan transition services (34 C.F.R. 300.344(b)(1)). Yet to evaluate effectiveness (Collet-Lingenberg, 1998).
a significant number of students are not invited to tran-
sition meetings (Williams & OLeary, 2001), and those
District Obligation
who do attend are often passive participants (Lovitt,
Cushing, & Stump, 1994; Martin, Huber-Marshall, & The school districts obligation regarding transition ser-
Sale, 2004; Powers, Turner, Matuszewski, Wilson, & vices was clarified in the 1990 amendments to IDEA:
Loesch, 1999). Special education teachers provide lim-
ited opportunities for students to discuss and plan The schools are not expected to become job
postschool activities (Zhang, Katsiyannis, & Zhang, placement centers. However, there are many
2002), minimizing the value of their contributions at employment and employment related activi-
transition planning meetings. ties which are appropriately provided by and
When invited and prepared, students value the op- funded through the local education agency. In
portunity to be actively involved in postschool planning addition, the schools should facilitate linkage
(Mason, McGahee-Kovac, Johnson, & Stillerman, 2002). with other public agencies in the transition to
Student participation in transition planning is highly independent living, job training, preparation,
associated with improved graduation and employment vocational rehabilitation, and postsecondary
outcomes (Benz, Lindstrom, & Yovanoff, 2000) and con- education. That is why the committee has
sidered to be a crucial support strategy for effective tran- taken great care in its choice of the words
sition services (Hughes et al., 1997). Administrators which promotes movement in the definition
must learn the advantages of active student participa- of transition services. (House of Representa-
tion and facilitate students assuming that role (Martin, tives Report 101-544, 1990)
Greene, & Borland, 2004). Schools must provide oppor-
tunities for students to learn how to participate actively Moreover, IDEA did not intend for schools to as-
in training meetings and to engage in postschool plan- sume the financial responsibilities of transition services
ning (Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, & Wehmeyer, 1998). that should be the responsibility of postschool agencies.
Such involvement is consistent with the concept of self- In identifying adult services agencies, the IEP should
determination (Wehmeyer, Agran, & Hughes, 1998) and include
student-centered planning (Getzel & deFur, 1997).
a commitment by any participating agency
(i.e., the state or local rehabilitation agency)
Individualization of the Transition Plan
to meet its financial responsibility in the pro-
Transition plans must be individualized to meet each vision of transition services. The local educa-
students unique postsecondary needs. Services must be tion agency should not bear the costs of
individualized to integrate the various types of support transition services that, according to the IEP,
that a student will require after high school (National would have been borne by another participat-
Center for the Study of Postsecondary Educational Sup- ing agency. (House of Representatives Report
ports, 2000). Students with disabilities have reported 101-544, 1990)
that they highly value the individualization of services
(Benz et al., 2000). Appropriate, individualized transi- IDEA clearly states that the local education agency
tion plans may be developed through a five-step plan is responsible for planning, providing, and evaluating
proposed by Storms, OLeary, and Williams (2000). The transition services until the student graduates. The
IEP team first examines the students and familys post- school district must invite to IEP meetings a representa-
36 CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006

tive of any other agency likely to be providing or paying ciencies, however, may not compromise the students
for transition services (34 C.F.R. 300.347(b)(2)). Such or parents involvement in the transition planning
agencies may include vocational rehabilitation, employ- process or deny the student a FAPE (Roland M. v. Con-
ment and training, mental health, developmental dis- cord School Committee, 1990).
abilities, social security, housing, recreation, or others
relevant to an individual students needs (National Cen- PERSPECTIVE
ter on Secondary Education and Transition, 2002). If a
participating agency is unable to provide agreed-upon Legal issues concerning transition planning for students
services, the local education agency must convene a with disabilities involve procedural and substantive
meeting to explore alternatives (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(6); components. The law requires IEP teams to involve
34 C.F.R. 300.348(a)). Once the student graduates, adult-services agencies in transition planning and to so-
however, the school districts responsibility ceases. The licit student input, practices that are supported in the
services to be provided to the student by adult-service empirical literature. Moreover, transition plans must be
agencies must be listed on the final IEP (McAfee & individualized on the basis of student needs and must
Greenawalt, 2001). provide services that will be meaningful and beneficial.
Several implications for improving practice may be
identified. First, all members of a students IEP team
Appropriateness of Transition Plans
must be familiar with the adult-service options avail-
As guided by Board of Education of the Hendrick Hudson able, either through the community or state agencies.
Central School District v. Rowley (1982), the appropri- Team members should visit service agencies, talk with
ateness of an IEP is determined by not only procedural representatives, and obtain relevant eligibility infor-
compliance but also substantive compliance. An IEP mation prior to establishing the required interagency
must be reasonably calculated to provide the student coordination for a given student. Second, IEP teams
with meaningful educational benefit. Transition plans should explore unique and individualized methods to
must be developed to ensure that the substance will re- ensure meaningful student involvement in transition
sult in meaningful postschool benefits for the student. planning. Various types of assistive technology may
The IEP team must consider a variety of transition ac- enhance a students ability to communicate interests
tivities to promote the successful movement from and career preferences. The inclusion of nonschool per-
school to postschool environments. sonnel, such as employers or supervisors, on IEP teams
The list of possible transition services suggested may further the teams awareness of the students pref-
in IDEA mirrors the pedagogical literature concerning erences. Third, an individualized and age-appropriate
best practices in transition (Pierangelo & Giuliani, 2004). assessment of training, education, employment, or in-
Curricula that integrate academic and occupational dependent living skills will ensure that students transi-
learning will meet both the general curriculum and tion plans are, indeed, individualized. Such assessments
transition mandates of IDEA (Eisenman, 2000). Tran- can guide the development of transition plans that are
sition planning must consider the holistic needs of a unique and student-specific. IEP teams should docu-
student, not merely postschool employment (De- ment the assessment results used in formulating the tran-
Stefano, Heck, Hasazi, & Furney, 1999). Students with sition plan for individual students. Finally, IEP teams must
disabilities must progress toward academic proficiency collect progress-monitoring data throughout the transi-
as well as postschool goals. Appropriate services may tion period to gauge whether transition services are ap-
include academic classes, continuing or adult educa- propriate or changes are needed. Intermittent, frequent
tion, daily living, socialization, independent living, data on progress toward transition outcomes will pro-
and financial competencies. Furthermore, community- vide essential information to IEP teams.
based programs are considered to be an essential and In addition to the change in definition from
effective adjunct to school-based programs (Johnson et outcome-oriented to results-oriented process that
al., 2002; Kamens, Dolyniuk, & Dinardo, 2003). is focused on improving the academic and functional
IDEAs transition requirements are results-oriented. achievement of the child (20 U.S.C. 1402(34)), the
If a student is able to benefit from the transition proc- reauthorized IDEA 2004 included significant changes
ess, despite procedural or technical errors, the intent to the transition requirements. IDEA 2004 no longer
of the IDEA mandate has been fulfilled. Those defi- requires that IEP teams begin to discuss transition
CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006 37

needs and specifically courses of study when the stu- activities. . . . These changes should redefine
dent is 14 years old. Instead, the statute now requires transition services as a results-oriented proc-
that the IEP include a transition statement not later ess focusing on postschool and in-school re-
than the first IEP to be in effect when the child is 16, sults including academic and nonacademic
with annual reviews and updates (20 U.S.C. 1414(d) alternatives. (pp. 4649)
(1)(A)(i)(VIII)). This change seems surprising for two
reasons. First, postschool plans are typically coordinated Furthermore, the need to fortify links between goals
for all students in a comprehensive 4-year plan. Courses and postschool outcomes has been frequently recom-
necessary to graduate or related to the students future mended in the empirical literature (Collett-Lingenberg,
goals are sequentially planned. Given the dismal post- 1998; Krom & Prater, 1993).
secondary outcomes for many students with disabili- IDEA 2004 also requires local education agencies
ties, a shorter time for transition planning may fail to to provide a summary of a students academic achieve-
improve the movement toward postschool activities. It ment and functional performance when IDEA services
is hoped that IEP teams will continue to begin transi- are to be terminated due to graduation from secondary
tion planning no later than age 14 to enhance the suc- school with a regular diploma or due to age eligibility
cessful movement to postschool environments. Second, (20 U.S.C. 1414(c)(5)(B)(ii)). The summaries must
the 2-year planning period may be inadequate to ensure include recommendations on how to assist students in
students receive sufficient and beneficial activities to meeting postsecondary goals. This summary may serve
promote the movement to postschool environments. As several purposes, including the continued coordination
revealed in the analysis of administrative and court de- of postschool activities. For example, adult-service
cisions, the failure to provide adequate transition ser- agencies will have a clear picture of the individuals
vices has consistently been viewed as a violation of the strengths and needs, thus promoting the development
substantive requirement of IDEA. Such failure denied of effective long-range plans. The recommendations
students a FAPE and resulted in tuition reimbursement from school personnel familiar with the students inter-
and compensatory education. Insufficient time to plan ests and preferences may ensure that those plans are
adequate transition services may result in litigation al- congruent with the students and familys vision.
leging a denial of FAPE. These changes in IDEA 2004 appear to encourage
IDEA 2004 also requires the IEP team to include attention beyond procedural compliance with the IDEA
appropriate measurable postsecondary goals based transition mandates to meeting the substantive require-
upon age appropriate transition assessments related to ments. Expanding the focus beyond procedural compli-
training, education, employment and where appropri- ance to include concentrated efforts to improve the
ate, independent living skills (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A) quality of students programs will enhance the transi-
(i)(VIII)(aa)) and to specify the transition services (in- tion planning process (McMahan & Baer, 2001). Many
cluding courses of study) needed to assist the child in IEP teams focus on filling in the transition page of the
reaching those goals (20 U.S.C. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(VIII) IEP accurately without regard to the value of this re-
(bb)). The requirement for measurable postschool ob- quirement (deFur, 2003, p. 120). Adherence to the sub-
jectives was anticipated, as advised by the Presidents stantive requirements of IDEA 2004 will ensure that
Commission on Excellence in Special Education (U.S. students with disabilities have meaningful supports in
Department of Education, 2002): their movement to postschool settings.

The Commission is appropriately concerned ABOUT THE AUTHOR


that too many children fail to move from Susan Etscheidt, PhD, is an associate professor of spe-
school to adult living more successfully. . . . cial education at the University of Northern Iowa. Her
The Commission finds that transition services current research interests include special education law
are not being implemented to the fullest ex- and education policy issues.
tent possible and that meaningful results do
not happen. . . . The Commission finds that CONTACT INFORMATION
IDEA must be changed to clearly link students Susan Etscheidt, 655 Schindler Education Center, Univer-
long-range transition goals to the develop- sity of Northern Iowa, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614; e-mail:
ment of the annual IEP goals, objectives and etscheidt@uni.edu
38 CAREER DEVELOPMENT FOR EXCEPTIONAL INDIVIDUALS/VOL. 29/NO. 1/2006

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T. F. v. North Penn School District, 31 IDELR 2 (ED PA 1999).
Appendix:
Judicial and Administrative Decisions Related to Transition Planning

Agency Contacts

Case Student data Issue Decision

Fulton County 21-year-old female Student claimed that FAPE was denied due to inadequacy For school district: IEP included referral plan to
School System, 29 with TBI and LD of IEP, including transition plans, and that outside agencies outside agencies. The district had coordinated post-
IDELR 1031 (SEA were not involved in transition planning. School district school plans with adult-service agencies, includ-
GA 1999) claimed to have coordinated postschool plans with agencies. ing one with whom the parent refused services.
Independent School 17-year-old male Parent claimed that transition services were not coordinated to For parent: IEP did not reflect representation of
District No. 0011, with MD and provide FAPE and no agencies were invited to attend IEP meeting. other agencies likely to be responsible for providing
40

Anoka-Hennepin, Down syndrome School district argued that the parent had agency contacts, but and paying for transition services. Ignorance is not
102 LRP 7054 failed to inform school district. excuse for failing to invite agencies.
(SEA MN 2000)
Travis Pace v. the 21-year-old male Student claimed that district denied FAPE by not inviting other For school district: IDEAs procedural requirements
Bogalusa City with PD and LD agencies to his transition planning meeting and by not providing were met because agencies were contacted; the stu-
School Board, 34 transition services. School district argued that appropriate agen- dent and his parents participated in planning proc-
IDELR 116 (ED cies were contacted and that transition plans were beneficial to ess, which resulted in benefit to the student.
LA 2001) the student.
Washington Town- 21-year-old female Student claimed that only lip service was given to transition For parents: Although the administrative law judge
ship Board of Edu- with multiple services in IEP and that no invitation to attend the IEP meeting returned the matter to the Department of Educa-
cation, 102 LRP disabilities was extended to an agency likely to provide and pay for transition tion for mediation, the judge suggested that an adult
11891 (SEA NY services, nor were the parents put in contact with that agency. agency may be liable for slow response to the student.
1999) The student was no longer eligible for school district services.
(appendix continues)
(appendix continued)

Student Involvement

Case Student data Issue Decision

Brodhead School 14-year-old male Parent argued that the school district unilaterally determined tran- For school district: The district had followed proc-
District, 40 IDELR with autism and SI sition needs and ignored the students preferences when selecting edural and substantive requirements regarding
58 (SEA WI 2003) coursework. The parent argued that the transition plan should in- transition services. The students preferences were
clude specific coursework for the next 4 years. The school district included in the IEP, and the parent and student par-
countered that course selection had been based on the students ticipated in IEP decisions. A 4-year plan of courses
preferences, his needs for team-taught courses, and schedule was not practical because the students postschool
availability. vision was still evolving.
Caribou School Postgraduate 19- The parents alleged that the school district did not involve them For parent: The school district did not consider the
Department, 35 year-old male with or the student in transition planning. The school district argued need for transition planning prior to the student
IDELR 115 (SEA ED that the program was adequate because the student graduated turning 16 years of age and did not involve the par-
ME 2001) from high school. ent or the student in transition planning. The stu-
dent received no advice or assistance in transition.
41

Eastern Howard 14-year-old male The parent alleged numerous violations, including failure to in- For parent: The school district was ordered to hold
School with ADD volve the student in transition planning. The school district agreed another meeting for transition planning and include
Corporation/ to reconvene the transition meeting and invite and include the the student.
Kokomo Area student.
Special Education
Cooperative, 26
IDELR 811 (SEA
IN 1997)
Madison Metro- Postgraduate male The student expressed strong interest in a performing arts pro- For school district: The IEP had clear, appropriate,
politan School Dis- with Williams gram and the parent requested it as vocational placement. The and beneficial transition plans. The student should
trict, 37 IDELR 26 Syndrome school district argued that participation in program was not nec- pursue music interests after completion of education
(SEA WI 2002) essary to provide FAPE. The school district transition program with district. Moreover, the school district was ad-
included daily living skills, vocational awareness, and adaptive dressing the students interests through the students
behavior goals, as well as vocational training (on-the-job training, participation in band and other fine arts services.
paid employment, and supervised independent housing).

(appendix continues)
(appendix continued)

Student Involvement

Case Student data Issue Decision

San Francisco Uni- 18-year-old female The parent argued that the school district failed to design appro- For parent: The students interests were considered
fied School District with LD and SED priate transition plan for 2 years and that the plan for the students in transition planning, but transition services were
and San Francisco junior year was inadequate. The student was not invited to attend inadequate. The student required more extensive
Community Men- meeting. The school district claimed to meet transition obliga- transition services than the informal, student-
tal Health, 29 tions with career-based activities (e.g., mock interview, student initiated activities that the school district offered.
IDELR 153 (SEA choosing three specific career interests, exploring college
CA 1998) programs.)
Sheridan School 17-year-old female Parent alleged that the school district failed to document why the For parent: The school district failed to ensure that
District, 32 IDELR with PD (cerebral student did not require transition services and failed to invite the the students interests and preferences were consid-
75 (SEA OR 1999) palsy) student to the IEP meeting. The school district claimed that the ered during transition planning. The school district
student did not require transition services and that it did provide was ordered to train staff on transition planning.
transition activities, including job shadowing, career exploration,
and resume writing.
42

Individualization of the Transition Plan

Case Student data Issue Decision

Appleton Area 19-year-old female Parent objected to proposed postgraduation IEP calling for a For parent: Transition plans must be individualized
School District, 27 with MD and cere- combined program through high school and community-based to meet each students needs, and the students inter-
IDELR 682 (SEA bral palsy agencies. Due to students inability to transfer skills, the parent ests and preferences must be considered. The stu-
WI 1998). Af- requested that the entire program be community-based. The stu- dents inability to transfer skills necessitates that the
firmed Appleton dent also had expressed that she did not want to return to the entire program be community-based.
Area School Dis- high school. The school district argued that the combined pro-
trict v. Benson, 32 gram is appropriate, that the student has the ability to transfer
IDELR 91 (ED skills, and that the program would be less restrictive.
WI 2000)
East Penn School 20-year-old male Parent alleged that the transition plan was not based on evalua- For parent: Transition plan was not individualized
District v. Scott B., with multiple tion, contained inadequate services, and included no goals. The to address the students unique needs. The school
29 IDELR 1058 disabilities school district argued that the plan was adequate, had specific district provided only vocational training, which
(ED PA 1999) goals, and addressed vocational education. was not based on vocational evaluation.

(appendix continues)
(appendix continued)

Student Involvement

Case Student data Issue Decision

Lancaster Indepen- 18-year-old male Parent charged that the student lacked basic skills needed to For parent: Transition plan was inadequate and
dent School Dis- with LD and achieve postschool goals and made no progress toward transition not individualized to meet the students needs. The
trict, 29 IDELR 281 ADHD plan goals. Transition services were offered only during the final school district did not consider recommendations
(SEA TX 1998) semester of high school. The school district contended that the from independent evaluation. The district was or-
student had received FAPE as evidenced by graduation from high dered to provide counseling services and conduct an
school. The school district was not required to maximize the stu- evaluation for additional transition needs.
dents potential, only to provide education beneficial to the
student.
Putman Board of 17-year-old male Parent alleged that the school district provided inadequate tran- For parent: Transition plan was not individualized
Education, 103 with ED sition services and should be required to provide such services for to meet the personal and interpersonal needs of the
LRP 57492 (SEA the next 2 years. The school district intended to cease services at student. The school district was ordered to hire an
CT 2003) the students 18th birthday and contended that the district had independent consultant to determine which services
provided the student with such services as a guidance counselor, to provide and how long the school district must
business entrepreneurship course, and collaborative computer provide them.
43

program.

District Obligation

Case Student data Issue Decision

Birmingham Pub-- 23-year-old male Parent wanted the school district to transport the student from For school district: The school district had provided
lic Schools, 38 with Asperger community college, provide job shadowing, provide vocational all that IDEA required for transition services.
IDELR 257 (SEA syndrome and academic support, and place the student in computer-related
MI 2003) job. The school district maintained that the student met gradua-
tion requirements and that adequate transition services were
provided.
North Hunterdon/ 22-year-old male Parent requested reimbursement for placement at comprehensive For school district (in part): Transition obligations
Voorhees Regional with multiple multiyear transition program focused on achieving and complet- need not maximize benefit but must offer mean-
High Board of Ed- disabilities ing the transition from school to community. The school district ingful benefit. The school district did give the stu-
ucation, 41 IDELR argued that it had offered reasonable transition opportunities, in- dent a genuine chance to explore options beyond
171 (SEA NJ 2004) cluding a community-based instruction program, summer job high school.
program, and guidance counselor.
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District Obligation

Case Student data Issue Decision

Susquehanna 19-year-old female The parent alleged that the school district did not provide tran- For the parent: The school districts failure to provide
Township School with dyslexia, sition service of 1-year postschool program for college preparation agreed-upon transition services meant that the IEP
District v. Jelani J., memory disorder, as specified in the IEP. The school district argued that because was not fully implemented. In order to graduate, the
39 IDELR 5 (PA and ADHD the student met graduation requirements, the district was no student must complete the IEP program, as well as
Comm. Ct., 2003) longer required to provide FAPE and that the district met tran- earn credits for graduation. The school district had
sition obligations by providing an opportunity to apply to a post- agreed to provide a 1-year placement; its offer to
secondary program. help the student apply to the program only provides
a de minimis benefit.
Washoe County 17-year-old female Parent proposed placement at a magnet school designed to pre- For school district: The students goal could be best
School District, 37 with PD and MD pare students for college. The school district argued that the IEP implemented at a regular high school campus, which
IDELR 28 (SEA was designed to assist the student in transition from high school. would provide FAPE.
NV 2002)
44

Wisconsin Dells Postgraduate 21- Parent argued that the school district failed to provide adequate For school district: The school district is not required
School District, 35 year-old male with transition services by not exposing the student to a variety of job to provide every possible job experience. It pro-
IDELR 145 (SEA MD and SI experiences. The school district countered that transition was vided job experiences based on needs and interests.
WI 2001) planned, appropriate agencies were contacted, and the student
was evaluated. The student benefited from the services and suc-
cessfully transitioned to employment.

Appropriateness of the Transition Plan

Case Student data Issue Decision

Arlington Central 20-year-old male Parent challenged the transition services provided to the student For school district: Failure to include a statement of
School District, 28 with ED and TBI during the past 3 years. The IEP lacked a statement of transition services was a technical defect that did not deprive
IDELR 1130 (SEA services. The school district showed that despite a lack of state- the student of FAPE. Transition services provided
NY 1998) ment, the student was provided with a variety of services, includ- were appropriate.
ing vocational training, community living, and work experience.
The student also enrolled in courses on the basis of his interests.
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Appropriateness of the Transition Plan

Case Student data Issue Decision

Bret Harte Union 18-year-old male After the student graduated and received his diploma, the parent For school district: The school district provided the
High School Dis- with OHI (Chronic challenged the appropriateness of the students transition services. student with adequate transition services to assist
trict, 30 IDELR fatigue syndrome) The school district claimed to provide a variety of appropriate him in his move from high school to college.
(SEA CA 1999) services (e.g., providing connection to junior colleges disability
student services; retaining an independent vocational consultant;
contacting the Department of Rehabilitation to provide tuition,
transportation, and books; and initiating a meeting with an LD
specialist at a college).
Board of Education 17-year-old male School district appealed decision that the IEP denied FAPE. Fail- For parent: The school districts deficiencies in tran-
of the Arlington with OHI ure to develop transition plan was harmless error. The parent sition planning were substantive violations that de-
Central School Dis- enrolled the student in a private school and requested tuition nied the student FAPE.
trict, 36 IDELR 193 reimbursement.
(SEA NY 2001)
Board of Education 21-year-old female Parent alleged that a transition statement omitted from the IEP For school district: Although the transition statement
45

of the City School with MD and ED denied FAPE. The school district worked on daily living and was deficient, the student was successfully transi-
District of the City community-based skills. tioned to a day rehabilitation placement.
of New York, 32
IDELR 24 (SEA
NY 1999)
Bonita Unified 17-year-old male Parent requested development of transition plan for student. Al- For parent: The school district was ordered to pro-
School District, 27 with SED and LD though no specified services were requested, the student indicated vide the student with transition services, including
IDELR 248 (SEA an interest in studying diesel mechanics and joining the Marine a work experience program and the development
CA 1998) Corps. The school district had recorded the students interests of employment and other postschool adult-living
and minimal work experience in an earlier IEP. objectives.
Elmhurst School 19-year-old male Parent argued that the student was not prepared to graduate and For school district: Transition plans were in place for
District 205, 34 with LD and sought compensatory education until the students 21st birthday the students entire high-school career, and the stu-
IDELR 112 (SEA ADHD for denial of FAPE. The school district maintained that gradua- dent made substantial progress on those goals. Al-
IL 2000) tion with a regular diploma was appropriate, that the transition though the student may need additional preparation
plans were adequate, and that the student could attend commu- for community college, the school district is not re-
nity college with support for LD. sponsible for that preparation after the student has
graduated.
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Appropriateness of the Transition Plan

Case Student data Issue Decision

Half-Hollow Hills High-school age Parent argued that the IEP failed to specify transition needs and For school district: Despite a failure to provide a
Central School male with autism services as required by IDEA. The school district claimed that a formal statement of transition services needs, the
District, 35 IDELR variety of transition services had been offered to the student school district offered a useful program for success
169 (SEA NY 2001) throughout his high school career. in school, postschool, and independent living.
Houston Indepen- 16-year-old male Parent claimed that the school district failed to provide vocational For school district: Although the notice to the parent
dent School Dis- with autism testing and transition services. The school district argued that it did not specify that transition services were to be dis-
trict, 32 IDELR 79 had administered a vocational assessment to plan postschool ac- cussed at the IEP meeting and the IEP lacked a tran-
(SEA TX 1999) tivities and provided counseling and field trips to prepare the sition statement, the student received transition
student for college. The school district attempted to arrange a activities to prepare for postschool life.
meeting to plan transition, but the parent resisted.
Livermore Valley 21-year-old female Student argued that due to lack of transition services a diploma For student: Despite meeting standards for gradua-
Joint Unified with multiple should not have been awarded and that she continues to be eli- tion, the student did not complete the prescribed
School District, 33 disabilities gible for special education services. The school district maintained course of study due to absence of transition plans
46

IDELR 288 (SEA that the student had met graduate requirements, ending eligibility concerning communication needs.
CA 2000) for special education.
Los Angeles Unified 23-year-old female Parent sought an additional year in the community-based in- For school district: The student met her goals of
School District, 37 with MD and struction program due to inappropriate travel mobility training. travel with adult supervision and travel safety.
IDELR 55 (SEA Down syndrome The school district maintained that transition services addressed
CA 2001) the students travel mobility needs.
Muscogee County 17-year-old male Parent complained that transition plan had not been updated For parent (in part): Although the transition plan
School System, 26 with Down and requested that students transition program include partici- was not updated annually as required by IDEA, the
IDELR 41 (SEA syndrome pation in a magnet vocational program. The school district student received FAPE. Failure to agree on placement
GA 1997) claimed that the placement was inappropriate due to safety con- was no excuse for failure to update transition plan
cerns and an inability to provide educational benefit. annually. The school district was ordered to develop
an updated transition plan.
Portland School 20-year-old female Parent alleged that the school district failed to provide instruction For parent: Because bus instruction was listed on
District, 30 IDELR with Down for riding the city bus system as part of transition services. The the IEP, the school district must provide it or initiate
836 (SEA OR 1999) syndrome school district argued that the parent did not consent to the stu- a change in the IEP due to lack of parental consent.
dents participation in that instruction, so bus instruction did not
happen.

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(appendix continued)

Appropriateness of the Transition Plan

Case Student data Issue Decision

San Diego Unified 18-year-old male Parent argued that the reading program of past 3 years was inap- For parent: The school districts program did not
School District, 36 with Down propriate and did not facilitate postschool employment. The teach the student to read information useful in his
IDELR 172 (SEA syndrome school district argued that its program was geared to community goals of supported employment and independent
CA 2002) needs after graduation. living.
School Administra- 18-year-old male Parent alleged that the school district failed to provide a transi- For school district: Although a formalized plan was
tive District #1, 25 with LD tion plan until the students senior year of high school. The school not developed in timely manner, the student received
IDELR 1256 (SEA district argued that although a formalized plan was not devel- appropriate transition services. Failure to formulate
ME 1997) oped, the student and parent participated in transition meetings, plan was a nonprejudicial procedure violation re-
adult-service agencies were involved, and the student received a sulting in no harm to the student or the denial of
variety of transition services from his guidance counselor. FAPE.
St. Paul ISD #615, 20-year-old female Parent filed a complaint that the school district denied the stu- For parent: The school district was ordered to pro-
28 IDELR 210 with unspecified dent FAPE by failing to adequately assess the students transition vide compensatory services of counseling and tu-
47

(SEA MN 1998) disability needs and provide transition services over a 3-year period. The toring, a notetaker for college classes, and use of the
school district disagreed with the amount of compensatory ser- school districts computers and software.
vices to be provided to the student.
T.F. v. North Penn 18-year-old male Parent argued that the school district did not provide transition For parent: The student was denied FAPE due to a
School District, 31 with dyslexia and planning after the student turned 16 years old. After filing two failure to involve the parent in transition planning
IDELR 2 (ED PA dysgraphia state-level complaints, the parent filed due process to secure an and a failure to provide transition services.
1999) order for transition services. The school district argued that it
had no obligation to provide services because the student had
graduated.
Thornton Frac- 20-year-old male Parent claimed that the school district failed to conduct a comp- For parent: The school district did not evaluate the
tional Township with LD and ED rehensive vocational evaluation and provide vocational training. student to determine transition supports or ser-
High School Dis- The school district argued that the IEP included transition plan- vices need for the student to enroll in technical
trict #128, 36 ning and that the parents expressed concern about the program school, which was his postschool vision.
IDELR 283 (SEA only after the student graduated.
IL 2002)

Note. TBI = traumatic brain injury; LD = learning disability; MD = mental disability; PD = physical disability; OHI = other health impaired; SED/ED = serious emotional disturbance/emotional distur-
bance; ADHD = attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder; SI = speech impairment; ADD = attention-deficit disorder; FAPE = free and appropriate public education; IEP = Individualized Education Pro-
gram; IDEA = Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.