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 http://ritter.tea.state.tx.us/special.ed/explansaf/ptic.html. 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 http://www.disabilityrightstx.org/. The Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates, a special education advocacy group, provides a directory of attorneys and advocates at http://www.copaa.org/find-a-resource/find-an-attorney/. The State Bar of Texas also provides information about lawyer referral services to help you find an attorney at http://www.texasbar.com/AM/Template.cfm?Section=Lawyer_Referral_Service_LRIS_.
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.
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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