The Rehabilitation Act of 1973, as amended by Title IV of the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (Rehabilitation Act) and its implementing regulations require VR agencies to enter into formal interagency agreements with SEAs describing how they will collaboratively plan and coordinate transition services for students with disabilities needing those services. (Section 101(a)(11)(D) of the Rehabilitation Act and 34 C.F.R. § 361.22(b)). This formal interagency agreement is a foundational document and is essential to ensuring that students with disabilities experience a smooth transition from school to post-school activities.
The IDEA also requires the SEAs and VR agencies to plan and coordinate transition services for students who receive special education services (Section 612(a)(12) of the IDEA and 34 C.F.R. § 300.154). While the IDEA does not require an agreement with the same degree of specificity as does the Rehabilitation Act, both parties to this agreement benefit from a clearly delineated process for the coordination of services, dispute resolution, and the allocation of resources to ensure students with disabilities are served appropriately.
The greater degree of collaboration and coordination between the VR program and the SEA through its district partners, the better prepared students with disabilities will be to transition from school into post-school activities.
The Rehabilitation Act and its implementing regulations require, at a minimum, that the formal interagency agreement between the VR agency and the SEA contain a description of:
- Consultation and technical assistance, which may be provided using alternative means for meeting participation (such as video teleconferences and conference calls), to assist educational agencies in planning for the transition of students with disabilities from school to post-school activities, including pre-employment transition services and other VR services.
- Transition planning by personnel of the designated State agency for the VR program and educational agency personnel for students with disabilities that facilitates the development and completion of their individualized education programs (IEPs) under Section 614(d) of the IDEA.
- The roles and responsibilities, including financial responsibilities, of each agency, including provisions for determining State lead agencies and qualified personnel responsible for transition services and pre-employment transition services; Procedures for outreach to and identification of students with disabilities who need transition and pre-employment transition services.
- Coordination necessary to satisfy documentation requirements set forth in 34 C.F.R. Part 397 with regard to students and youth with disabilities who are seeking subminimum wage employment.
- An assurance that, in accordance with 34 C.F.R. § 397.31, neither the State educational agency nor the local educational agency will enter into a contract or other arrangement with an entity for the purpose of operating a program under which a youth with a disability is engaged in work compensated at a subminimum wage.
Additionally, these interagency agreements must include:
- An identification of, or method for defining, the financial responsibility of each agency for providing services to ensure a FAPE is provided to youth with disabilities, provided that the financial responsibility of each public agency, including the State Medicaid agency and other public insurers of youth with disabilities, shall precede the financial responsibility of the LEA (or State agency responsible for developing the child’s IEP).
- Conditions, terms, and procedures under which the LEA shall be reimbursed by other agencies.
- Procedures for resolving interagency disputes (including procedures under which LEAs may initiate proceedings) under the agreement or other mechanism to secure reimbursement from other agencies or otherwise implement the provisions of the agreement or mechanism.
- Policies and procedures for agencies to determine and identify the interagency coordination responsibilities of each agency to promote the coordination and timely and appropriate delivery of services described in Section 612(a)(12)(B)(i).