What Is the Purpose of Least Restrictive Environment?
Least Restrictive Environment
As parents sit at the IEP table, the Team comes to the part of the meeting when they discuss the “appropriate classroom setting.” If you are like me, parents automatically think their child will be in the gen-ed (general education/ regular) classroom. Random thoughts that have gone thru my head — as a parent and as an advocate – Isn’t every child entitled to be placed in the gen-ed setting? Is the gen-ed classroom the “best” setting for each child? What is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) for my child? This last question is the hardest for parents as they sit at the IEP table.
While at the IEP Meeting, it is hard to make a sound choice regarding which placement/setting will be the most beneficial to your child when you are reviewing all options for your child! We had to consider a non-inclusion class for our younger daughter with her legal blindness. With her blindness, there are different cues, teaching strategies, accommodations, etc… that needed to be addressed and that would have been more “typical” in a center classroom/ residential school with other students who were also blind. That decision did not come easily for my husband and I, but we had several other families that we were able to discuss placement with so that she benefitted best! At least we “could prepare.” Most parents don’t have that luxury.
Getting back to the IDEA law: IDEA does state that our children with disabilities in public or private schools/facilities should be educated with children who are nondisabled and that placement outside the gen ed class “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.”1 The ASD (autism) class is one example where your child might benefit from placement with other students who have autism; the classroom might be more equipped with tools/equipment/therapies/strategies than the gen ed class.
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