As a special educator, we all know that we deal with "mountains" of paperwork. A thought that might make this documentation more "palatable" is to realize that the more detailed and systematic your paperwork is, the more likely you will be able to keep your school from paying out during an "EVENT." One of the "latest" and "greatest" areas of litigation (in my neck of the woods) is the infamous "Transition Plan." Since we are usually never called to testify on anything recent (and my memory DOES NOT improve with age) you might want to make sure that you have all of these things covered (and kept) for each of your transition age students (I'm talking about any kid with an IEP who will be 16 or older during the life of the IEP you are currently writing). Disclaimer: I'm not an Educational Lawyer (I've just worked for many in previous incarnations in my life) and each state will likely have different rules and regulations; so, don't take this article as "the whole truth." Do your research and speak with professionals if something happens that warrants an "event" in your teaching career. (NOTE: An "event" is not a good thing!)
Quick Overview: I will try to have an in-depth blog post on each of these points sometime in the future.
1) You have to address work/employment skills for the student. This has to assessed with an "age-appropriate" tool. That means the graphics must be age-appropriate (even if the student cannot read). No baby stuff - even if the transition age student loves "Dora" make sure you don't have it on any documentation. It's imperative to remember that you can't write the same goal for each year. Break the targeted career down each year. Show progress and/or effort for each step of the way. (I always document with pictures and videos.) In addition, my state will call the student a few years after graduation and there should be "proof " that the student is in the career that they were prepped for during high school. If there is not proper documentation of the steps/progress and parent or caregiver involvement, this can trigger an "event." REMEMBER YOU DON"T WANT TO DEAL WITH AN "EVENT!"
2) Education (this includes any training/technical school/etc.) This deals with the "now" that you have the student and the "tomorrow" after the student has graduated. I'll go into this one more in a future post.
3) Independent Living (this includes the "Now" and the "Tomorrow"). This is a HUGE area! I could write volumes on this but today I just want to touch on three areas/aspects that you need to have Community Based Training and Social Skills/Stories Lessons on.
a) Living Arrangements: Is the student staying at home? Forever? Is this reasonable? Would a non-disabled student be staying with their parents forever?
b) Recreation and Leisure: Does the student know how to get to desired places/activities? This is a big part of everyone's happiness and without this skill, life may not be as fulfilling as it could be for our students.
c) Personal and/or Social: Here's another biggie! How and what type of social skills/narratives are you teaching? Without proper social skill training our students will miss out on many opportunities to have success in life. What about self-advocacy? The list for the "soft" skills that need to be taught under this area are unlimited.
Overwhelmed already? Don't be, take it day by day and never offer your students any less than you would offer your own children.
You can do it! Special Education - Peggy Simpson
Transition Plans - Read/No Read Bundle