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SEARCH for New Workers Led to Hires Close to Home

Some of the newest hires at the U.S. Department of Education this year are D.C. public school students with developmental disabilities, Alexa Posny told me recently.

Ms. Posny, assistant secretary for special education and rehabilitative services, said that through a somewhat new endeavor of the U.S. Department of Labor, the Department of Education has seven students with disabilities as interns this year. The students, who are not working toward a traditional diploma, are in their last year of school. This group of interns is doing 10-week rotations through different offices throughout the Department of Education.

Project SEARCH, as the program is called, is new only new to the federal government. The program began at private companies in 1996, and the Department of Labor says there are now 140 sites in 42 states and similar programs in the U.K. and Australia.

At the Department of Education, the seven interns have been learning clerical skills including filing, copying, scheduling, scanning, and shredding. And they have worked on preparing materials, mailings, archiving documents, and hosting events.

In all, there are 30 students from the District in the program, split between ED, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ms. Posny said having the students around the office has been beneficial for the students and the Department. She hopes to have a special graduation ceremony for them at the end of the school year. Better yet, she said, "some departments want to hire the kids."

Is there a Project SEARCH site near you?

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