Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates
Protecting the Legal and Civil Rights of Students with Disabilities
COPAA is premised on the belief that every student deserves the right to an equal and quality education that prepares them for meaningful employment, higher education and lifelong learning, and full participation in his or her community. Under IDEA Transition services are defined as a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that:
Students with intellectual and developmental disabilities frequently transition out of high school lacking the proper skills required to find and maintain employment or pursue post-secondary education. This trend is due to persistent low expectations that dominate individualized education programs (IEPs) for students and a lack of focus or knowledge in how to effectively provide hands-on work experience and training (including mentoring, internships, summer work programs, and career development) to youth with significant disabilities that is typically offered to students without disabilities during their transitional years.
· Prior work history: Students who have worked during their high school years in summer and/or after-school employment are more likely to be employed after exiting high school.
· Student Demographic Factors: Males are more likely to be employed than females
· Skill-related factors: Those students with high ratings on classroom social skills had better chances of being employed.
· Family-related factors: Young adults whose parents expected that they would work are over three times more likely to work than those whose did not.
So what do College and Career Ready skills look like for students with intellectual disabilities? According to Rachel Quenemoen, Project Director for the National Center for Educational Outcomes at the University of Minnesota, it is possible, using David Conely’s “Components in a Comprehensive Definition of College Readiness” for typical high school students to create a list of skills that are critical for the success of students with intellectual disabilities. These skills are:
· Communication competence,
· Full access to academic content for life-long learning
· Development of appropriate social skills in a setting with their typical peers
· Development of independent work behaviors
· Development of support access skills.
COPAA believes that just as students with disabilities must have an opportunity equal to that of their peers without disabilities to become college or career-ready; once employed, all workers - including those with disabilities – must be paid fair wages for fair labor. We understand that subminimum wage is permitted under 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and will continue our work through the appropriate avenues for policy change.
Policy must distinctly support and complement the work underway at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to aggressively pursue discrimination claims related to failure to provide services to individuals with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. We are encouraged by the recent work of the DOJ, who is initiating investigations and/or litigation in more than 20 states to assert the rights under Title II of the ADA, 42 U.S.C. § 12132 (2006), as interpreted by Olmstead v. L.C. by Zimring, 527 U.S. 581 (1999), to ensure that services, programs, and activities provided by public entities, including States, be delivered in the most integrated setting appropriate to the needs of persons with disabilities.
Recently, in June, 2013, DOJ sued the State of Rhode Island and City of Providence (including the Providence Public School Department), asserting that the use of segregated sheltered workshops violates the ADA. The Complaint, alleged that the defendants discriminated against individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (“I/DD”) by unnecessarily segregating them or by placing them at risk of segregation in violation of Title II of the ADA. Specifically, they had “placed approximately 85 public school students with I/DD from the Providence Public School Department at risk of unnecessary segregation by placing them in a sheltered workshop and segregated day program. United States of America v. State of Rhode Island, et al., Compl. at p.1. On January 6, 2014, DOJ issued a letter finding that Rhode Island’s system of providing vocational, employment and day services to individuals with I/DD violated Title II. The arguments in the Complaint and the conclusions in the findings letter prove powerful tools in obtaining appropriate transition services for individuals with disabilities.
As evidenced in a 2012 GAO report on Transition, in addition to IDEA there are several federal statutes address issues relevant to transition age students. 
Every federal law should work together to help every individual with a disability, regardless of perceived severity, to achieve an independent, community-centered and quality life. (6)
o Supports for education in the least restrictive environment with peers without disabilities
o Universal design for learning
o On the job training (array of field-based work experience in real jobs)
o Summer focused planning early in the second semester to ensure summer employment
o Intentional sequencing of content instruction toward grade level academics and the other knowledge and skills that lead to the attainment of integrated paid employment and/or participation in college
o The same job/career support and job fairs provided to for peers without disabilities, including access to informed guidance counselors
o The same job/career information for families provided for peers without disabilities.
o Students with disabilities should have the same opportunities as their peers for such transition opportunities as dual enrollment in college and/or integrated paid employment, with transportation.
o Students with disabilities should have access to highly qualified job developers/ transition specialists and customized professional development.
COPAA Member Only Resources Files on Transition (Requires Log in)
 20 U.S.C. § 1402 (34)
 CPSD Policy Paper – (2013) http://thecpsd.org/cpsds-key-policy-concerns-related-to-alternate-assessments-based-on-alternate-academic-achievement-standards-and-the-reauthorization-of-the-elementary-secondary-education-act/
 Redefining College Readiness (Conley,D.T., 2011) Volume 5, Eugene Or: Educational Policy Improvement Center. https://www.epiconline.org/publications/documents/redefining-career-readiness.pdf
 CPSD Education White Paper (2012) http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.copaa.org/resource/collection/fb227bdb-b917-408a-9993-e58a6f069478/cpsd-education-roundtable-recommendations-white-paper-final-copy.pdf?hhSearchTerms=%22cpsd+and+white%22
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