NYC attempts to improve transition services for students with disabilities.
For students with disabilities ages 16 and older (15 and older in New York), the IDEA requires their IEP to include goals and services to facilitate their transition into the real world after high school. The school district must tailor these transition goals and services to the unique needs, interests, and preferences of the child. Depending on the child’s circumstances, transition goals and services may focus on preparation for post-secondary education, vocational training, employment skills, and/or community participation. If appropriate, the goals and program should also include instruction on independent living skills.
New York City IEPs, however, often fail to meet these requirements. Transition goals and services found in NYC IEPs are often vague and include recycled language that does not address the child’s unique circumstances. Little is often done to ensure that transition services are being provided or that the child is meeting the goals set forth in the IEP, and parents are often left in the dark as to where to obtain the appropriate services.
The City is now attempting to address these deficiencies through Transition and College Access Centers. The centers provide information and resources to students with disabilities and their parents and provide advice and training to schools to implement transition services. Two of the centers have already been established in Boys & Girls High School in Brooklyn and Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, and centers are also expected to open in Staten Island, Queens, and Manhattan. Among other things, the centers will work with students to find job-training programs and advise students concerning graduation options for high school.
The transition centers represent a step forward for the City in fulfilling their obligations to students with disabilities. They are also a reminder to parents to examine the transition goals and services in their student’s IEP and flag this area for discussion during their next IEP team meeting.