DESE/IDEA Updates (Feb. 2017)

By: Jean Spera, Special Education Director

The Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSERS), of the U.S. Department of Education (Department), has recently published, A Transition Guide to Postsecondary Education and Employment for Students and Youth with Disabilities. OSERS' mission is to improve early childhood, educational, and employment outcomes and raise expectations for all individuals with disabilities, their families, their communities, and the nation. To assist students and youth with disabilities to achieve their post-school and career goals, Congress enacted two key statutes that address the provision of transition services: the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Rehabilitation Act), as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). The idea is administered by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), and Titles I, III, VI, section 509, and chapter 2 of Title VII of the Rehabilitation Act are administered by the Rehabilitation Services Administration (RSA). Both the IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act make clear that transition services require a coordinated set of activities for a student with a disability within an outcome-oriented process. The student's transition from school to post-school activities is a shared responsibility.

OSERS presents this transition guide to advance our efforts in ensuring that all students and youth with disabilities are equipped with the skills and knowledge to be engaged in the 21st Century workforce. In doing so, OSERS recognizes the significance of collaborative partnerships and hope that the information in this guide will assist families and their students and youth with disabilities in developing and pursuing their goals for adults life.

This transition guide addresses the following topics to facilitate a seamless transition from school to post-school activities: Transition planning: opportunities and programs; Transition Services and requirements, as authorized by IDEA and the Rehabilitation Act; Education and employment options for students and youth with disabilities after leaving secondary school; an Supporting decisions made by students and youth with disabilities

This guide is available on OSERS website, January 2017

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Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education-Special Education released an Administrative Advisory (SPED 2017-1) in September, 2016 entitled, Guidance Regarding the QIOA Prohibition on Contracting with Entities for the Purpose of Operating a Program Under Which a Youth with a Disability is Engaged in Subminimum Wage Employment. This advisory provide guidance in accordance with the regulations recently promulgated under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) of 2014, specifically 34 CFR § 397.31.

This regulation states: Neither a local educational agency, as defined in § 397.5(b)(1), nor a State educational agency, as defined in § 397.5(b)(2), may enter into a contract or other arrangement with an entity, as defined in § 397.5(d), for the purpose of operating a program for a youth under which work is compensated at subminimum wage.

The term "entity" is defined in 34 CFR § 397.5(d): (d) Entity means an employer, or a contractor or subcontractor of that employer, that holds a special wage certificate described in section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act (29 U.S.C. 214(c)).

WIOA is a comprehensive federal law, enacted on July 22, 2014, which is intended to streamline, consolidate, and improve workforce development and training services for various groups, including youth and workers with disabilities. Throughout the Act, Congress emphasizes that individuals with disabilities, including those with the most significant disabilities, can achieve competitive integrated employment if provided the necessary supports and services.

Section 511 of WIOA defines limits on the payment of subminimum wage to individuals with disabilities. Within Section 511, there is a particular focus on youth aged 24 and under, as a result, state and local education agencies play an important role in implementation of Section 511 regarding allowable wages for youth employed through secondary transition programming and services.
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