people in schools
By Dave McKellar
National studies have shown that people with disabilities are much less likely to be employed than those without. Even with passage of the Individuals with Disabilities Act the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the percentage of working-age people with disabilities in the labor force is about one-third that of people with no disability.
Within the IDEA is a mandate for school districts to provide transition services for students with disabilities. Many school districts have developed community-based transition programs.
Arlington Public Schools’ Transitions program was designed for adults with disabilities ages 18-21 who continue to need special education services outside of a 9th-12th grade setting/curriculum. The APS Transitions program is available to eligible students who have not graduated from high school.
APS Transitions focuses on providing learning opportunities for young adults to build vocational, social and independent living skills. It offers experiences where young adults with significant disabilities can imagine and experience situations where living their adult lives as productive, independent and engaged community members is possible.
There is no requirement in the IDEA that transition services be provided on school grounds. An issue that comes up frequently, especially for many 18-21 year-old students, is that while they are entitled to services under the IDEA, their peers without disabilities are no longer in school and, understandably, they do not want to be receiving services in a high school setting with younger students.
This has been the case for Arlington students for many years. The 2018-19 school year brought about many changes to APS Trans-itions. Over the summer, Trans-itions moved from Arlington High School to its new location in a house located on the campus of the district’s Support Services building. District maintenance crews significantly improved portions of the French Avenue House to serve as a safe facility for the program and provide more opportunities for students to access our business community.
Transitions is on its way to providing many new and exciting opportunities for our students with disabilities ages 18-21. Throughout the year, the team will continue to build more varied and robust employment opportunities as well as educate businesses and employers about the benefits of hiring individuals with disabilities.
Dave McKellar is director of Special Education for Arlington Public Schools, which has a monthly column in this newspaper.