Two changes to the School Code took effect at the beginning of the 2013-2014 school year related to special education of which IEP teams should be aware.
The first change relates to transition plans. Under the School Code, the first IEP in effect when a student turns 14 ½ must include a transition plan to support the student’s transition from high school to post-secondary life. Post-secondary goals and transition services (based on age-appropriate transition assessments) are required in the areas of training, education, and employment. In accord with the IDEA, Section 5/14-8.03 of the School Code previously provided that goals and services in the area of independent living skills be provided “where appropriate.” Public Act 98-517 amended this section so that goals and services related to independent living skills are now required for every student’s transition plan. Many transition-age students have not previously had transition goals related to independent living skills. Ensure that future transition plans for all students include individualized goals and services in this area.
The second change is related to “stay-put.” Stay-put under the IDEA operates to maintain a student in his or her then-current educational placement during the pendency of a due process dispute. Public Act 98-383 provides that stay-put also applies if the parent and school district agree to use mediation when the parent has not yet filed a due process complaint. If the mediation is not successful, stay-put remains in effect for an additional 10 days. If the parent does not file a due process complaint within that time, the school district’s proposed (disputed) placement can take effect.