In Hawaii a student ages out of their public school system at 20 years old. For 1,800 special-education students, this meant that they could no longer finish high school and earn their diploma. But a recent federal judge ruling will actually change that. These students will now be entitled to free educational services to make up for 2 more years of schooling that they were denied.
However, this additional schooling would not involve sending these students back to high school, but rather provide a 2 year secondary education transitioning program. The Hawaii Disability Rights Center argued that the state allows students without disabilities and older than 20 to complete secondary education programs under the state-run Community Schools for Adults. Also, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act entitle children with disabilities access to public education until the age of 22. “In Hawaii…non-disabled students between the ages of 20 and 22 can pursue diplomas that eluded them in high school, but students with special needs are simply out of luck,” they argued.
Attorney Paul Alston explains, “We are talking about a population that the DOE has never served and trying to provide them not classroom education, but work education, life education and to help them get skills so that they can function as independent adults.”
Wheels in the US Department of Labor are moving as well, as they are in the midst of choosing individuals to serve on the National Advisory Committee on Increasing Competitive Integrated Employment for Individuals with Disabilities, where they will make recommendations to the Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez.
“Individuals with disabilities can make significant contributions to our workplaces,” says Perez, “This advisory committee will help American Job Centers, Workforce Development Boards and vocational rehabilitation agencies nationwide work collaboratively to promote employment opportunities for this pool of talented workers.”
Apart from this, the new workforce law would make changes to the transition from school to work for students with disabilities and limits who is eligible to work for less that minimum wage.
ICare4Autism is working on a comprehensive Autism Workforce program for all 50 states to provide the modality to obtain work for all autistics. See their site here, http://www.icare4autism.org/
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