This post is authored by Don Peek, a former educator and past president of the training division of Renaissance Learning. He now runs The School Funding Center, a company that provides grant information and grant-writing services to schools. To learn more, or to subscribe to the School Funding Center Grant Database, go to schoolfundingcenter.
I Always Welcome Good News
A few weeks ago I wrote about the positive difference my grandson’s current school system has made in his attitude toward school and in some ways life in general. My grandson is autistic. Yes, he has problems with both verbal and non-verbal communication. He engages in repetitive activities and stereotypical movements. He resists changes in his routine and can “lose it” when he’s around crying children. But he’s my grandson, and I want what’s best and right for him just as I do my other grandchildren.
It was good news for me when I learned that he liked his present school and was doing well. It was equally good news to me this week when I learned through my son and his wife that my grandson will definitely be receiving transitional services next year. Yes, I know schools are obligated to provide services up through the school year of a student’s 21st birthday. But you know what? Not all of them do. Not all of them let parents know what is available and what can be done to help that special education child with the transition from high school to college, specialized training, the work force in general, or just the rest of their lives.
Some schools do not graduate students when they reach the typical senior age of 18 or 19. They simply keep them in school taking classes until they reach 21. The transitional plan, as with everything else dealing with special education students, should be detailed in the IEP. Teachers and parents have to come together and decide what is most beneficial for special education students when they reach 18, and decide if it’s best for them to continue going to school or if it’s best for them to go into some kind of outside transitional program.
Unfortunately, the quality of these transitional programs is not consistent across the country and school districts are not consistent in providing them. Also, it is not automatic that students once in a transitional program will remain in them until they are 21. It depends on the goals of the transitional program, the progress made, and the abilities of the students.
Beginning at the age of 16, each students’ IEPs must include appropriate measurable post-secondary goals related to training, education, employment, and where appropriate, independent living skills, as well as the transitional services. If these goals are not met by the time the student earns enough credits to graduate, the district is obligated to either keep the student in school or to provide transitional services to meet these goals.
If there is a dispute about whether the student should receive a diploma or if the transitional plan is appropriate, a parent may file for mediation and due process proceedings.
Who in the world wants or needs to be involved in that kind of response? And that’s why I’m so glad to hear that my grandson will graduate this spring, but he will promptly begin his transitional program next fall. No fuss, no fight, his school is providing what is right and what he needs.
We want the very best for those we love, but it’s always good to see the personnel of a school district want the very same things for them that we do.
Grant Name: Monell Foundation Educational Grants
Funded By: The Ambrose Monell Foundation
Description: Giving on a national basis to improve the physical, mental, and moral condition of humanity throughout the world. Giving largely for hospitals and health services, scientific research, museums, performing arts, and other cultural activities, and higher and secondary education; support also for social services, research in political science, mental health, and aid to the handicapped. No grants to individuals.
Program Areas: Adult Literacy, Disabilities, General Education, Health/PE
Recipients: Public School, Private School, Higher Ed, Other
Proposal Deadline: 10/31/12
Average Amount: $5,000.00 – 1 million
Availability: All States