While many students with disabilities across the country meet the academic requirements to earn their highs school diploma, they so not necessarily meet the goals in their IEPs for transition to adulthood. Yet the regulations set forth in the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) stipulate that a student is not eligible for services under IDEA once a diploma has been earned and issued. This conundrum has had special educators perplexed, parents frustrated and students confused about next steps.
One Iowa school district has a solution, thanks to a grant for transition to employment. It has launched a program to aid students with disabilities who have met their graduation requirements but need to continue to work on transition goals.
Dubuque Community Schools soon will begin its new Summit Program for certain students who receive special-education services.
Lori Anderson, transition facilitator with the district, said the new program combines the best aspects of the district’s Lifetime Center and Super Senior programs to help guide students and their families on the path of independent learning, living and working.
Anderson said the district reviewed its career readiness and transition-based programs after receiving a Model Employment Transition Site grant in 2012. The grant’s goal is to increase the number of students with disabilities who successfully transition from school to employment. The review led to the new program.
Students who have met their graduation requirements but have an unmet Individualized Education Plan (IEP) goal or transition need are eligible for the program. They can walk with their classmates at graduation, but they will not receive their diploma until they leave the program.
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