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Individuals with Disabilities Education Act
The IDEA 2004 was reauthorized and signed into law on December 3, 2004. The IDEA regulations include transition services, which is defined as a coordinated set of activities for a child with a disability that is
- designed to be within a results-oriented process, and focused on improving the academic and functional achievement of the child with a disability to facilitate the child’s movement from school to postschool activities including post-secondary education, Vocational education, integrated employment (including supported employment), continuing and adult education, adult services, independent living, or community participation;
- based on the individual child’s needs, taking into account the child’s strengths, preferences, and interests, and
- includes instruction, related services, community experiences, the development of employment and other post-school adult living objectives, and, when appropriate, acquisition of daily living skills and functional vocational evaluation. [34 CFR 300.43 (a)] [20 U.S.C. 1401(34)] (Building the Legacy of IDEA 2004, IDEA Regulations, Secondary Transition).
The purpose of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act is to ensure that all children with disabilities receive free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE). The education should emphasize special education and related services to meet their unique needs and prepare them for “further education, employment and independent living.”  At the end of the school year when a student reaches the age of 22, or when they graduate with a regular diploma, the entitlement to a Free and Appropriate Public Education ends. Another excellent source is the IDEA Partnership, with a web page on Autism Spectrum Disorders. The six principles of IDEA are outlined by the Learning Disabilities Association of America: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
See Also: AZ Lawyers Impacted by Autism's A Special Needs Timeline of Legal Issues, Rights, and Best Practices.
Section 504 of Vocational Rehabilitation Act and the ADA
Section 504 and ADA ensure that an individual with disabilities has access to supportive services such as an aid in a classroom setting, accessibility to extracurricular activities, and protections in employment. These two civil rights laws protect individuals with disabilities from disability-related discrimination whether it is in education, the workplace or public accommodations (such as a restaurant or public building).Section 504 is more limited in that it only applies to institutions that receive Federal Funds such as schools, while the ADA's broader scope applies to state and local government services as well as a number of public services, whether or not they are Federally funded. They both require that individuals with disabilities not be denied access to appropriate services or supports that may be necessary to meet their needs. Importantly, these two laws protect individuals with ASD when their protections are no longer in effect under IDEA, that is, once they turn 22.
Graduation requirements vary by state, as do the diplomas that are awarded.
Pennsylvania Graduation Requirements
Pennsylvania students are required to begin school no later than age 8 and continue until age 17 or until graduation from high school, whichever comes first. 22 Pa Code § 11.13. Students who are eligible for special education services may attend school through the age of 21 unless they decide to graduate and are awarded a diploma from their school district. C.F.R. § 300.300 Once a student accepts a diploma, the child may not receive free special education services. Students of school age may qualify for graduation by attending the public school part-time when legally employed part-time or enrolled in a post-secondary program part-time. 22 Pa Code § 11.5
See Also: Excellent article from the Education Law Center on Graduation Requirements for Children with Disabilities
Fair Housing Laws
There are three federal laws which protect individuals with disabilities from housing discrimination and which require landlords to provide reasonable accommodations/modifications so that an individual with disabilities can use a dwelling or unit: Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act, the American Disabilities Act, and the Fair Housing Act.
The Fair Housing Act:
The Act stipulates that if you have a physical or mental disability that substantially limits one or more major life activities, your landlord may not:
- refuse to make "reasonable modifications to your dwelling or common use areas, at your expense, if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing. (Where reasonable, the landlord may permit changes only if you agree to restore the property to its original condition when you move.)
- refuse to make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services if necessary for the disabled person to use the housing.
For further information, refer to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
- ↑ Topic: Secondary Transition U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs 02-01-2007 [online]http:idea.ed.gov.