The Department of Education in Louisiana Granted $10 Million to Enhance Occupational Prospects for Students with Disabilities

By Orion Blake
Published October 03, 2023

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Louisiana – The Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE) has received a $10 million grant to enhance job prospects for students with disabilities. It is among 20 states privileged to get funds from the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) project called Pathways to Partnerships. This innovative initiative fortifies collaborations among state vocational rehabilitation services, state and district education departments, and independent living centers. The aim is to streamline the transition process for disabled individuals progressing to post-high school life.

“We are excited about this opportunity to further support students with disabilities as they transition to successful lives beyond high school,” said Louisiana State Superintendent of Education Dr. Cade Brumley. “Connecting more students with career opportunities is part of our broader efforts to improve the quality of special education programming statewide, providing greater access to information and services for families and higher quality programming for students.”

Louisiana is set to pilot a system designed to enhance cooperation between high schools and Louisiana Rehabilitation Services (LRS), thus simplifying the process of transitioning to work for people with disabilities. 

This initiative will offer an all-inclusive program for disabled students, assisting them in job preparedness and career exploration. The focus of this model will be pioneering efforts aimed at creating job opportunities like internships and apprenticeships for students with disabilities.

In August, Dr. Brumley sent a letter PDF (opens in a new tab) to all system chiefs and outlined several initiatives the LDOE is implementing to update antiquated special education methods and systems. The purpose is to enhance support, supervision, and to improve the results for students with disabilities. The measures are inclusive of:

  • The Special Education Playbook, a PDF resource by the Louisiana Department of Education (LDOE), has already garnered commendations from national education experts. This playbook is a compilation of optimal practices as well as a call to mitigate achievement discrepancies for students with disabilities. The resource distills years of research into three foremost educational practices aimed at assisting students with disabilities. This month, the LDOE will conduct a tour across the state to help school systems implement these practices.
  • Improved Family Assistance: The LDOE will hire a Special Education Ombudsman who will have the power to engage in private discussions with parents. Furthermore, the organization is assigning an extra complaint investigator.
  • Improved Assistance for Teachers and Leaders: This encapsulates technical assistance via universal access to training in special education law and adherence, personnel to aid school systems in complying with special education requirements, and the potential assignment of a special master who has immediate supervisory control over special education programs within a system. This supervisory tool from LDOE would be allocated to systems that have widespread, recurrent, and/or major areas of concern.

Managed by the ED’s Rehabilitation Services Administration, Pathways to Partnerships is the biggest optional grant in its category. It bolsters Louisiana’s continuous endeavors to broaden opportunities for obtaining high school qualifications, further education, or jobs through various graduation routes.

Those who are granted the Pathways to Partnership award receive complete financial support for a project that lasts five years; this implies that the beneficiaries receive all the necessary project funds at the start of the first year. Over the course of these five years, the award recipients will test, adjust and execute their suggested projects whilst simultaneously gathering and examining project-related data.