What are transition services?
Planning for the future is part of any student's education. For students with disabilities,
this includes transition services.
Transition services help a student move from school to adult life. The services depend
on the student's needs and interests. They help students with everything from work to
school to fun. A student can get help to go to college or other school after high school.
Transition services also help students get jobs, find a place to live, and be a part of the
Who decides what services a student receives?
The Individual Education Program [Plan] (IEP) team decides on the services. When the team talks about transition services, the student should be there. The team should also invite a representative from any agency the student might use. For example, if the student wants to move into an apartment, someone who will be providing supported living services should attend.
The IEP team has to think about what the student needs and wants. The best way to do this is to ask the student. The student should attend IEP meetings and help choose transition services. If the student does not attend, the IEP team has to figure out what the student needs and wants.
When does transition planning begin?
The IEP team has to begin planning when the student turns 14-years-old or starts the
ninth grade. They can start earlier, but never later. They need to look at what classes
the student is taking. The student's classes should align with what s/he wants to do
after graduation. If the student wants to go on in school, s/he needs classes to prepare
for college. If the student wants to learn a skill or trade, s/he might need a vocational
The IEP team needs to figure out what help the student might need for these
programs. This information goes into the transition section of the IEP document. By
age 16, the IEP should list all services the student will need to move from school to
How does the team decide which services a student needs?
The first step in transition planning is an evaluation. The student gets an evaluation to
figure out what s/he needs after high school. The evaluation must look at five different
areas of the student's life:
- Recreation and leisure
- Home living
- Community participation
- Opportunities to learn new things after high school
The results of the evaluation are written in a report. The IEP team uses the report to
figure out what the student needs now and what will be needed later.
The IEP has annual goals and short-term instructional objectives for each part of
the student''s education. The team has to write goals and objectives for transition.
They need to figure out what services the student will need to reach the goals. The
student's transition plan must be updated every year.
Many students need transition services for more than school or work. The school has
to teach students to live independently. A student might need help in learning to use
the bus system or go to the doctor. Some students need help in learning how to handle
money, join a gym, or make friends. Transition services should help with all of this and
What happens when a student turns 18?
At age 18, a student is in charge of his/her own special education services. The school
must send all notices to both the student and the parents. The parents don't sign the
IEP anymore. Unless the student is under guardianship or conservatorship, s/he signs
Can a student in special education get a regular high school diploma?
Yes. If a student meets all of the goals on the IEP, s/he will get a regular high school
diploma. It will be exactly like the one that students without disabilities receive.
All students have to meet graduation standards in order to graduate. In most schools,
if a student takes all of the credits required by the school, then they will meet the
graduation standards. In addition, students have to pass a number of state tests.
The IEP team looks at the tests and required credits in relation to the student's
disability. If the student needs help to take the classes or tests, the IEP team decides
what kind of help s/he needs. Beginning at grade nine or age 14, the IEP must say
exactly what the student needs to do each year in order to get a diploma. The IEP lays
out the student's personal requirements for graduation.
Once a student leaves school, can s/he get services?
Yes, but not from the school district. In Minnesota, Rehabilitation Services gives help to
adults who have physical and/or mental disabilities. State Services for the Blind (SSB)
helps people who are blind or have trouble with their vision. If a student needs services
after high school, SSB or Rehabilitation Services should get involved in the planning
by age 16.
How do we get Rehabilitation Services or SSB involved in the transition planning?
The first step is to invite a counselor from Rehab Services or SSB to an IEP meeting.
When the school starts transition planning, they should ask a rehabilitation counselor
to join the IEP team. If the school doesn't do it, you can call yourself and ask a
counselor to come.
You have to apply for SSB or Rehab Services. If you qualify, then the agency will get
more involved. A counselor should come to every IEP meeting where the team talks
about transition services.
Does SSB or Rehabilitation Services have to help if the student isn't 18-years-old yet?
Yes. If you call and invite Rehabilitation Services or IEP to meetings, they should
attend. All vocational planning has to be done before the student leaves high school.
The state agencies are required to help with that. If they tell you no, call and explain
that you need help with transition planning. If they say no, ask to talk to a supervisor. If
the supervisor says no, you can appeal. Please visit the Minnesota Disability Law
Center (MDLC) website to learn more about your rights to appeal under the
Rehabilitation Act, or access the website by using the link provided below:
What other agencies should help with transition planning?
Any agency or organization that gives or pays for transition services should help. A
representative might just come to one IEP meeting.
All agencies who will help with transition should be named in the IEP. The IEP should
describe exactly how each agency will help. If an agency does not do what the IEP
states, then the school has to find someone else who can provide that service.
The following are examples of agencies and what they do:
Post-secondary education and training providers - Provide information about
courses or programs at colleges or trade schools
Centers for Independent Living (CILs) - Provide resources to help people with
disabilities live in the community. They may help with housing, living skills, and job
Disability Specific Organizations - Can provide case management services,
residential services, or other kinds of help. Examples include, Arc, United Cerebral
Palsy (UCP), or the Mental Health Association.
Benefits Planning Assistance and Outreach (BPA&O) Services - Provide
information to help students understand their Social Security benefits (SSI and
SSDI). Earning wages can change benefits, and some new work incentives can
help students to become more financially independent. BPA&O Services can
advise students about wages and benefits. One example is the Minnesota Work
County Social Service Agencies - Provide case management services, which
can, in turn, help the student find other services and benefits.
Social Security Administration - Provides financial help or work incentives for
people with disabilities. Students can make a Plan to Achieve Self-Support
(PASS) to set aside income for education or work goals.
What if I don't agree with the transition services in the IEP?
If you begin to have disagreements with the school, be sure to keep all of your paperwork together. Keep all notices that the school sends. Keep copies of anything you mail to the school. Start a log of telephone conversations. Write down the time, the date, and the name, title, and phone number of the person you talked to. Write down what the conversation was about.
Call the Minnesota Disability Law Center. We may be able to help you get an advocate. Even if we can't get you an advocate, we may be able to give you advice. And, with or without an advocate, it is very important to keep careful records.
If you don't agree with the IEP, don't sign it. Work with the school and ask them to help you. If you can't get what you need, don't give up.
Ask for a facilitated IEP meeting, a conciliation conference, or a mediation. For more information about these options, please use the link provided below:
If you still have trouble, you can ask for a due process hearing, or you can file a complaint with the Minnesota Department of Education. For more information, use the link provided below: