The Child & Family  Law Center

June, 2017
Transition Newsletter

As always, as the school year draws to a close, the focus of many IEP meetings is on transition planning and services. Unfortunately, some of those discussions are happening later in the student's career than they should. Transition is an ongoing process and not a one-time event. A student should have a transition plan at 14.5 years-old in Illinois. The goals for transition should not be generic but specific, data driven and based on age appropriate assessments. There is some guidance from recent case law and an OSEP letter (Office of Special Education Programs-U.S. Department of Education) that may be of interest to our clients and colleagues.

Summer Special! 

IEP Review and Transition  Plan Review 
with Micki Moran, J.D.


Call 847-926-0101 to schedule your IEP and Transition Plan Review
Transition Plans Should be Updated Annually
(Anonymous, Letter, OSEP, February, 2017)
By Micki Moran, J.D.

Frequently, students' transition plans in their IEPs are written and remain the same through their educational career. However, since they are a part of a student's IEP, they must be updated annually. 34 CFR §300.320 (b) This is often overlooked in IEP meetings for transition age students. The transition plan is an after-thought and is reviewed, if at all, in a cursory fashion. A recent OSEP letter emphasized the need for an annual update of the transition plan portion of an IEP. 

Transition services as defined in 34 CFR §300.43 are: "a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that-
(1)  Is designed to be within a results-oriented process, that is focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child's movement from school to post-school activities, including post-secondary education, vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
(2)  Is based on the individual child's needs, taking into account the child's strengths, preferences and interests and includes-
(i)            Instruction;
(ii)          Related services;
(iii)         Community experiences;
(iv)         The development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives; and
(v)          If appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and provision of a functional vocational evaluation.
The decision regarding what transition services are appropriate for a student is an IEP decision where various participants, including the student and his or parents, may offer ideas regarding what the transition goals should be.
The letter from OSEP offers guidance on the importance of an ongoing (annual) review of a student's transition plan.
            "It is reasonable to expect that a transition aged youth may, based on coursework completed, community experiences, (such as a summer or after school job) and other college - and career preparation opportunities, develop new interests, or changed preferences regarding his or her post-secondary goals. For these and other reasons, it is important that the IEP team review or update the child's post-secondary goals and transition services annually to reflect any new or different activities that are required to provide FAPE to the child." (emphasis added). 
Transition Activities Must be Individualized: 
S.G.W. v. Eugene School District (District Ore. 2017)
By Micki Moran, J.D.

In a case from the District Court of Oregon, the Court articulated what is required for a particular student regarding the provision of transition services. The IDEA requires school districts to set "appropriate, measurable post-secondary goals based upon age appropriate transition assessments related to training, education, employment and where appropriate, independent living skills and identify and implement the transition services (including courses of study) needed to assist the child in reaching those goals." (citations omitted).

In the above-named case, the IEP set transition goals such as learning skills related to a job in the law, acquiring a part-time job in a legal office, and learning to cook, maintain an apartment, and make a budget. At the due process hearing, the Administrative Law Judge found the transition services inadequate. The court affirmed.

"The IEP stated that the student would take "two transitions" classes (finance and career), participate in a career day, and visit a local community college. The ALJ found those recommendations insufficient because the courses were generally available to all students and not sufficiently individualized to meet the student's needs. The ALJ found that the services actually provided were insufficient. Student never took the transitions classes and didn't visit the community college. The ALJ also held that although attendance at career day, while an appropriate option, could not stand alone to fulfill the transition services requirement under the IDEA".

The school district argued that the student didn't enroll in the transition classes and therefore didn't take the assessments that could have informed the student's IEP team regarding transition goals. The Hearing Officer didn't accept this as justification for an inadequate transition plan and IEP.

The court upheld the decision of the ALJ and stated as follows:

"The ALJ correctly found a violation of the IDEA. Although the IDEA does not mandate any particular transition assessment tool, a student interview, without more, is insufficient. (citations omitted) ...It may be that had the student taken the career transitions class, the assessments offered in that class would have met the requirements of the IDEA. But the student didn't take that class, and the district has not explained why the student did not take assessments, whether that used in transition classes or others, in some other setting. ... A school district must do more than enroll a student in generally available courses and send the student to career day to comply with the IDEA's transition services requirement."

The important take away from this case is that transition services must be sufficiently individualized and must be based on age appropriate assessments. The student's enrollment in the classes might have satisfied the transition requirements in part. However, simply suggesting classes that are available to all students won't pass legal muster when districts rely on a one-size fits all model in the provision of transition services and fail to individualize the program based on the unique individual needs of the students. 

Checklist for Parents and Students for Transition Aged IEP Meetings
By Micki Moran, J.D.

  • Goals must be data driven and measurable.
  • Does the evaluation data support the goal? In other words, is there an accurate and date driven Present Level of Performance for each goal, including transition goals?
  • What is the timeline for meeting the transition goals?
  • What is the action plan?
    • o   What needs to be done?
    • o   Who needs to do the tasks? (this is typically a combination of personnel, including parents). However, parents should not solely be responsible for completing these tasks.
  • Are there a particular set of classes that the student will be taking?
    • o   How will they address the student's transition needs?
  • What specific activities must be done as part of the transition plan?
    • o   Ask who, what, when?
  • What age appropriate transition assessments will be administered?
    • o   Timing?
    • o   What will be assessed?
  • What are the student's interests, preferences, and plans for transition?
    • o   Vocational?
    • o   Employment?
    • o   Educational Aspirations?
    • o   Independent Living?
Speaking Engagements and Presentations

New Hope Academy Parent Night
Micki Moran will present:
Cyber Safety
June 20, 2017
Palatine, IL

Loyola University Chicago
Education Law: A Year in Review
Education Law and Policy Institute
Micki Moran will participate in the panel presentation:
The Supreme Court's Decision in Endrew F. v. Douglas County School District: Ramifications for Special Education
June 27, 2017
Chicago, IL
About Us
The Child & Family Law Center ,  founded  by Micki Moran in 1995, is a unique legal practice that specializes in providing services to families and children in the areas of Special Education, IEP Consultation, Guardianship, Juvenile Law, Criminal Law, Mental Health Law, DCFS, Divorce and Parental Responsibility, Parenting Agreements, and Mediation.

We provide representation in Cook, Lake, McHenry, DuPage, Kane and Will Counties.

Please call our office to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys in the areas of Divorce, Guardianship, Special Education, Juvenile Criminal Law.

The Child & Family Law Center
1950 Sheridan Road, Suite 201
Highland Park, IL 60035
Phone (847)926-0101
Fax (847)926-8500