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Transition Education Laws

There are several transition related laws that influence who and how transition services are provided to youth with disabilities.  Within the school setting the IDEA, Massachusetts Special Education Law Chapter 71b, Massachusetts Chapter 688, and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act can impact a youth’s education.

Schools are responsible to provide transition services under the IDEA and define these services as: “a coordinated set of activities for a student with disabilities, designed within a results oriented process, focused on improving academic and functional achievement that promotes movement from school to post-school activities…” IDEA (20 U.S.C. 1401 (34))

What are the important laws that impact transition services?

1. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004. 20 USC 1400 ensures that all children with disabilities have available to them a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) that emphasizes special education and related services designed to meet their unique needs and prepare them for further education, employment and independent living. The Center for Parent Information and Resources interprets IDEA here.

2. The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education outlines requirements of the IDEA.

3. Understand parental rights under the IDEA.

4. Massachusetts Chapter 71b is the Massachusetts law that guarantees the rights of all young people with special needs (age 3-22) to an educational program best suited to their needs.

5. Massachusetts Chapter 688 (better known as the “Turning 22” law) was enacted in 1984 to provide a planning process for young adults with severe disabilities as they leave special education and transition into the adult service system. For more information go to the Chapter 688 page.

6. Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act prohibits discrimination against public school students with disabilities.  The Center for Parent Information and Resources interprets Section 504 here.

Looking for transition information from Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education?

The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education developed several transition advisories to help families, professionals and youth with disabilities better understand what transition looks like in middle and high school.

1.  Watch this Federation for Children with Special Needs webinar on understanding the law and the transition planning process.

2. Find specific information from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education on Special Education: Transition from School to Adult Life.

3.  Read this advisory about transition services starting at age 14 Technical Assistance Advisory SPED 2009-1: Transition Planning to Begin at Age 14.

4.  Use this visual image in your next team meeting to represent the process and collaboration required for a successful transition.

Massachusetts Department of Education's Transition Home Page

5.  Find all transition related advisories about Post-secondary Goals and Annual IEP Goals, Assessment, and Self-Determination here (PDF).