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California Department of Education
Official Letter
California Department of Education
Official Letter
March 17, 2021

Dear Workability I Region Managers, Program Coordinators, and Grantees:

Workability I 2020–21 Program Guidance

The purpose of this letter is to provide 2020–21 program guidance to support local educational agencies (LEAs) that continue to be impacted by COVID-19. This is specific to the Workability I (WAI) state funded grant program managed by the California Department of Education (CDE), Special Education Division (SED). The CDE provides secondary transition services through the WAI program and 266 LEAs receive WAI grant funds to participate in the program annually.

In response to the continued closure of school sites, the CDE will provide WAI grantees the flexibility needed to meet the requirements of the program for students with disabilities placed in work experience programs during these unprecedented times. Three areas of concern are addressed in this letter: 1) Approval of WAI grantees to provide remote and on-campus placements to facilitate virtual and remote learning, 2) Temporary waiver of five grant conditions grantees are placed in if specific program criteria are not met for the fiscal year (FY), and 3) Affirm guidance for unallowable use of funds when purchasing WAI created fee-based curriculum, and ensuring approval from the CDE for WAI funded events using the budget approval process per California Education Code (EC) Section 41010 for this grant program.

WAI Remote and On-campus Placements

Due to the concern that many school sites were not open by the fall of 2020, and the fact that many still continue with closures through the spring of 2021, the CDE, SED, conducted a brief statewide survey of WAI grantees to collect a list of what types of remote and on-campus placements the grantees were implementing as options. The survey revealed that the majority of WAI grantees (79 percent of respondents) were unable to offer students with disabilities community-based work experience placements due to county health department ordered closures and health-related concerns with face-to-face interactions. The option of paid community-based work experience is an integral component of the WAI grant, and grantees receive funding to be specifically allocated for student wages per EC Section 56471(e)(6). However, the survey confirmed the challenge some grantees are facing with no options available in the community to place students with disabilities in employment opportunities safely.

In order to provide other options in lieu of community-based work experience, the CDE is providing temporary flexibility during COVID-19 school closures for WAI grantees to offer increased remote or virtual-work experiences, or additional on-campus work opportunities.

The employment portion of transition services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) helps facilitate movement towards competitive integrated employment, and should be provided in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The LEAs placing students in WAI work-based experiences should be mindful of the employer location, and ensure opportunities for interaction with non-disabled peers and customers are provided. This applies to both in-person and remote-work experience placements. Please see Attachment A for additional details on remote and on-campus placement elements.

2020–21 Grant Conditions

To address the concern with WAI grantees being placed on fiscal grant conditions for 2020–21, the CDE will waive five grant conditions so that WAI grantees do not risk being penalized for school closures. This waiver is offered to provide flexibility to WAI grantees without undermining the basic intent of the law or the EC sections 56470–56474 which govern the WAI program.

As part of waiving the grant conditions, WAI grantees shall assure that the use of WAI grant funds are expended in accordance with the provisions of all other applicable statutes, regulations, approved program applications, plans, and budgets, and legal assurances which are not subject to this waiver to continue to provide the WAI program.

The following conditions are temporarily waived:

  • Student wages for try-out employment. It is a requirement of the WAI grant, per EC Section 56471(e)(6), that grant funds are allocated for try-out employment.

    • If grantees are not able to expend the FY 2020–21 grant funds that were allocated for student wages, then grantees should only report the actual expenditures within this budget category. The WAI FY 2020–21 amendment period opens April 1, 2021, and will remain open for 45 days. Grantees who do not anticipate utilizing all of their funds budgeted for student wages should submit an amendment during this period of time.

  • Serving all students for which funding was received.

    • If grantees are unable to serve students for which funding was received, they will submit expenditures for the actual amount of funding used.

  • All approved project funds must be expended within the designated award period.

  • Placement into employment at least 15 percent of the students funded to serve.

  • Grantees must achieve a score of “Basic/Developing” on the WAI Education Code Report: a numerical score of no less than nine for high schools and no less than seven for middle schools.

Unallowable Use of WAI Grant Funds

In order for WAI grantees to avoid conflict of interest and not fall under incompatible activities, the following shall apply to fee-based products such as curriculums created by grantees for use to implement the WAI program:

  • Adhere to and use procurement procedures that reflect applicable state statutes and standards.

  • If WAI grantees advertise for a fee-based curriculum, program, or professional development event where there appears to be a conflict of interest (i.e., grantee created the curriculum and is charging other grantees for it), then the grantee advertising will need to include two other competitors so as not to circumvent the competitive process.

  • If a WAI grantee wishes to purchase the Student Advantage curriculum or participate in WAI fee-based events, the WAI grantee needs to have a line item within their approved WAI budget for these budgeted items, and include a justification to support these costs.

Documenting Reasonableness of Cost Justifications

The following provides guidance for costs incurred to purchase fee-based curriculums created by WAI grantees with grant funds:

  • Costs shall be adequately documented to illustrate compliance with all applicable funding rules and restrictions of the WAI grant program.

  • Any WAI grantee purchasing the WAI grantee-created fee-based curriculum shall include the following back-up documentation with their invoice to be kept on file:

    • Minimum of two competitors and justification as to why the WAI grantee-created fee-based curriculum was selected.

    • An explanation for determining the basis that the price or rate charged is reasonable in comparison to the cost of similar services, i.e., why is this curriculum more appropriate to use for WAI students?

    • Note differences or special factors for the selection of said curriculum.

    • Explain why the cost is appropriate and reasonable, for example:

      • Is the WAI grantee-created fee-based curriculum or event less or more expensive than the competitors?

      • How is that cost justified to avoid conflict of interest?

The WAI grantees receiving state grant funds are required per EC Section 41010 to follow the definitions, instructions, and procedures in the California School Accounting Manual (CSAM). Operating agencies and districts are mandated to follow CSAM guidelines for conformity with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), which are essential for consistency and comparability in financial reporting. The CSAM is to be used for classifying, developing, and recording all revenues and expenditures for the WAI program.

The CSAM may be viewed and downloaded at http://www.cde.ca.gov/fg/ac/sa. Please refer to the CSAM web page to view the object classification codes. It is the responsibility of WAI grantees to review the complete listing of object classification codes in the CSAM and to check for updates to this document.

If you have additional questions on the above information, please contact Nick Wavrin, Education Programs Consultant by email at NWavrin@cde.ca.gov, or Wes Roberson, Education Programs Consultant by email at WRoberson@cde.ca.gov.

Sincerely,

Heather Calomese, Director
Special Education Division

HC: nh

Attachment A (DOCX)

Last Reviewed: Wednesday, April 7, 2021

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