"Placement decisions, including those related to transition services (including work placements), must be based on these (least restrictive environment) principles and made by the IEP team," wrote Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the Department of Education.
"The IDEA does not prohibit segregated employment, but the (least restrictive environment) provisions would apply equally to the employment portion of the student's program and placement."
The guidance from Musgrove
comes in response to a series of questions from officials at Disability Rights Wisconsin
, a federally-mandated legal advocacy service, regarding the responsibilities school districts have in administering transition plans for students with disabilities.
News of Musgrove's letter was first reported by Education Week.
Much like traditional requirements for least restrictive environment in the classroom, Musgrove
said that schools must offer supports at job placements if such assistance will allow a student to be successful in an integrated environment.
"Removal of children with disabilities from the regular education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily," she
The reason: Melody Musgrove, director of the Office of Special Education Programs at the Education Department, signaled at the time that the department would only require schools to spend as much as they did the prior year - whether or not they had followed the rules.
Now, however, Musgrove
appears to be backing down.
In response to a critical letter from the Center for Law and Education
and a colleague wrote this week that they are rescinding their previous guidance.
"After further review, we have determined that the level of effort that (a school district) must meet in the year after it fails to maintain effort is the level of effort that it should have met in the prior year," wrote Musgrove and Alexa Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services.