Where will a student with a disability receive services? IDEA requires placement in the least restrictive environment (LRE) for each child, a setting that is based on the child’s IEP. Students must be taught alongside their typically developing peers as much as possible. Special education services and placement are not tied to an eligibility label, the IEP is individualized for each student.
Least Restrictive Environment LRE
The regular classroom in the school the student would attend if not disabled is the first placement option considered for each student before a more restrictive placement is considered. Placement must be discussed annually.
When the IEP team (which includes the parents) decides where a child will be educated, it must ask what can be provided so the child can stay in the regular education classroom. It must consider what supplementary aids and services (extra supports) will allow the child to be placed in a regular classroom environment.
What other settings are there besides a regular classroom?
School districts make available a range of placement options to meet the unique educational needs of students with disabilities. The continuum of placements include:
- a general education class
- a special education class
- a special education school
- at home
- in a hospital or other public or private institution
Any alternative placement selected must maximize opportunities for the student to interact with nondisabled peers.
What does the law say?
IDEA REGULATION §300.114(a)(2) General LRE requirements: Each public agency must ensure that—
(i) to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and
(ii) special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children 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 cannot be achieved satisfactorily
- LRE:A Simplified Guide to Key Legal Requirements PACER
- Considering LRE in Placement Decisions CPIR
- Extent of Nonparticipation CPIR
- Starter Set of Resources for LRE CPIR
Does LRE apply to students of all ages?
Educational services for students with disabilities should be provided in schools where peers without disabilities attend, in age-appropriate general education programs, under the direct supervision of general education teachers, with special education support and assistance as determined appropriate through the student’s IEP.
Placement decisions, including those related to transition services, must be based on these principles of LRE.
- LRE Applies to Preschool US Dept of Education
We know that where a child attends preschool can set the trajectory for the rest of their educational career. In Michigan, the majority of young students with disabilities are not being educated with their typical peers. A statewide workgroup has identified specific actions that would result in preschools having a more inclusive experience.
Where can I learn more and get support?
- Our webpages on Inclusion and Access to General Education
- Dispute resolution Parents have the right to disagree with decisions that the school system makes.
- Promoting Inclusion and Belonging START
- Inclusion Matters (Michigan Facebook Group)
- Contact Michigan Alliance for Families 1-800-552-4821
- Kids Together
- Disability is Natural