DRW and the Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) wrote a letter to the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) seeking better guidance about the least restrictive environment (LRE) impact on community based transition services. OSEP responded with a favorable letter on June 22, 2012. Click here for the letter.
DRW and BPDD believe:
The letter provides more guidance to states on how to apply Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirements under Part B of IDEA to transition work placements. There has been confusion among states, school districts, IEP teams (including parents and youth) about how transition services can facilitate integrated employment. USDOE clearly states that transitions services are a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that are designed as part of a results-oriented process. This process is meant to help the child move to post-school activities, which include integrated employment (including supported employment).
Transition services (including work placements) should be based on a child’s strengths and interests.
USDOE clearly state that a work placement, if it is included as part of a youth’s transition services, must be included in the child’s IEP and then is subject to the provisions of a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and Least Restrictive Environment (LRE).
USDOE clearly states that when work placements are part of transition services, they must meet the LRE test, which includes the IEPs team’s determination that the youth is only receiving services in a segregated setting (segregated work placement) if the use of supplementary aids and services could not support the youth in a less restrictive setting. We believe those supplementary aids and services should include things like job coaches and assistive technology.
USDOE clearly states that, just as the LRE test applies in the classroom, supplementary aids and services based on peer reviewed research – must be provided to the youth to help him or her make progress in the work placement setting. An IEP team must consider those aids and services the can help the student participate with non-disabled peers.
USDOE clearly states that SEAs (DPI) has the responsibility to monitor whether LRE is being met for youth in work placements. Therefore a district would be expected to show a variety of work placements based on the strengths and interests of the youth in their district.
DRW Managing Attorney Jeff Spitzer-Resnick is quoted in an Education Week blog post on this topic: Click here to read the blog post.