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Guaranteeing Special Education Rights: Individualized Education Plans

Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc.
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Youth in Special EducationTurtle Mountain student and counselor

The mother was clearly very upset.
"Look at my son! He is fifteen years old and he reads at about the third-grade level. You know him. You see how he is. He is okay now while he is in school and everyone knows he is in special ed but how is he going to be once he gets out of school? Yesterday, he sees somebody in the store who looks like they are from another country and he sees, 'Hey, Chinese guy! Then he pulls his eyes up like he is Asian or something and starts dancing around and going ching, ching, chang.' I told the man I was really sorry and just kind of dragged Roger away. Can you imagine what he would be like on a job or even just at a restaurant if he starts something like that? Some day he is going to do something like that and get punched out or even worse. A job is the least of my worries. I am really scared about how he is going to survive."

The transition from school to work can come as a shock to students and their families who have become accustomed to special education services. Students who receive academic programming and support in high school will not automatically have the same support after they graduate. This is a time for a lot of major decisions and there are a lot of different paths a student may take. The mother in the story to the right is concerned about her son's safety given his very inappropriate behaviors. The young man, Jordan, in the picture on the left, has a very different story. He is a soon-to-be high school graduate discussing college plans with his counselor. You can read the article he wrote about his transition planning in an issue of the Miniwakan Tiyospaye News.

Transition planning should begin when a student is 14 years old and continue until the student leaves school or turns 21, whichever comes first. Students may take very different paths. Like Jordan, they may be deciding on a college major. Others, like Roger, may need to develop skills that will help him succeed in an entry level job and live in the community. Whichever path a student takes, major decisions are ahead. In this section, we will review these major decisions including:

  • Beginning the transition planning - getting prepared for life on your own
  • College or work? What kind of college and what kind of job?
  • Living arrangements - at home, with family, independent living

NEXT arrow NEXT: From school to work

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