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We have a special needs daughter with Autism who is 18. We want to know if we can keep her in HS instead of transition program?

Mansfield, TX |
Filed under: Education law

We've been told that that the district can keep special need students until they are 21 but recently the district started a new program that herds 18 yr special needs kids into a work transition program at a different location with no emphasis on academics. I think it is a good program for some but my daughter benefits more from academics and she has come a long way already. The academics which is only taught at the HS has made our daughter more cognizant and has improved her abilities to speak and reason. Her math skills continue to improve as does her reading. We just had an ARD yesterday and the AP says the decision to keep her in the HS is over his authority and will have to escalate our request to his supervisor who is Spec. Ed. Dist. Campus coordinator over HS and transtion progam.

Attorney Answers 3

  1. Best answer

    The majority of state laws and regulations implementing the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) require school districts to provide special education services to students with disabilities until they graduate with a regular diploma or until the summer after they turn 21, whichever comes first. Many districts try to meet this requirement by putting all special education students between ages 18 and 21 into transition programs with a focus on life skills and vocational skills. A student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) must be based, however, on individual needs and preferences. If a student needs continued academic instruction to prepare for postsecondary goals, then academic instruction needs to be addressed in the student’s IEP.

    A student cannot be placed in a transition program that does not meet their educational needs simply because that is how the district provides services to special education students after high school. Additionally, the district must provide instruction with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate, such as through high school or community college courses. However, a district can use a transition program or other alternative to a high school setting if it is inappropriate for the student to be at a comprehensive high school or if the combination of services available elsewhere is more appropriate.

    If the district representative at the last ARD meeting was unable to authorize appropriate services, the next step would be to contact the recommended special education administrator and request, in writing, a meeting to discuss your daughter’s IEP and an appropriate placement to meet her educational needs.

    If you want to pursue this matter further, an education lawyer licensed in Texas would likely be able to help you. The Texas Education Agency provides a list of Parent Training and Information Centers for Texas that provide special education related resources to families at Disability Rights Texas is a federally mandated protection and advocacy agency that provides legal services for individuals with disabilities in a wide variety of settings, including education, and can be found at The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a special education advocacy group, provides a directory of attorneys and advocates at The State Bar of Texas also provides information about lawyer referral services to help you find an attorney at

    This answer is given for informational purposes only and is NOT legal advice. This answer does not establish a lawyer-client relationship. If you need legal advice and assistance you should contact an attorney in your local area immediately.

  2. Your ARD Committee should address this issue. You may wish to consult an education attorney who represents parents in special education matters.

  3. You should use the in district appeal process and move forward with the request to the District supervisor. You should consult a special education attorney in your location for guidance on proceeding.
    Best of luck!

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