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Friday 24 Oct 2014

Least Restrictive Environments

What are LRE Requirements?

Each school must ensure that to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities, including students in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with students who are nondisabled. Additionally, special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with disabilities from the regular educational 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.

What placement options are available?

Each school must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of students with disabilities for special education and related services. The continuum must include the instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions. Provisions must be made for supplementary services (such as resource room or itinerant instruction) to be provided in conjunction with regular class placement. Common placement (listed from least to most restrictive) options include:

  • General education classroom with no supports
  • General education classroom with an aide
  • General education classroom with pull-out services
  • Part time in special education and part time in general education
  • Most of the time in special education with some time in general education
  • Full time in special education (self-contained classroom)
  • Private placement
  • Home placement

In determining the educational placement of a student with a disability, including a preschool student with a disability, each school must ensure that the placement decision is made by a group of persons, including the parents, and other persons knowledgeable about the student, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options. The student’s placement is determined at least annually, is based on the student’s IEP, and is as close as possible to the student’s home. Unless the IEP of a student with a disability requires some other arrangement, the student is educated in the school that he or she would attend if nondisabled. In selecting the LRE, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the student or on the quality of services that he or she needs. A student with a disability is not removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general education curriculum.

In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, including meals, recess periods, and other services and activities each school must ensure that each student with a disability participates with nondisabled students in the extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of that student. The school must ensure that each student with a disability has the supplementary aids and services determined by the student’s IEP Team to be appropriate and necessary for the student to participate in nonacademic settings.

What is Inclusion?

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) does not actually use the word inclusion, but it is a word that is used within the autism and disability community and warrants attention. The law actually requires that children with disabilities be educated in the least restrictive environment appropriate to meet their unique needs. The least restrictive environment to maximize learning depends on the student and their needs; however attention needs to be paid to inclusion of students with disabilities with their typically developing peers in the general education environment.

Independent of the educational placement for a student, based on the decision of the IEP Team, there will still be times when the student will be participating in activities with typically developing peers. Whether the student is spending 15 minutes per day in the general education environment or 7 hours, there are specific considerations that need to be made to make the most of time spent.

  • Being there is not enough. Simply being in the same room as typically developing peers is not inclusion. Interactions and participation needs to planned and prepared for in advance to maximize success.
  • The lead teacher is in charge of planning instruction and participation in activities not the instructional aide (paraeducator). The instructional aide is there to facilitate participation. There should be a clear plan with goals based on the students IEP so the time spent in the general education is productive and meaningful.
  • What accommodations or modifications need to be made to maximize participation and success? All preparation should be done ahead of time to provide all the necessary accommodations (i.e. visual aids, tools, etc.) to allow for meaningful participation and modifications to materials to adjust requirements based on the needs of the student.