What is the least restrictive environment?

School districts must offer your child with special needs a placement that is tailored to meet your child's unique needs (as described in your child's IEP).

 

The placement must be in the least restrictive environment, commonly called the "LRE."

 

Placement in the LRE means that to the maximum extent appropriate, your child must be placed with his or her non-disabled peers.

Before a child with a disability can be placed outside the regular education environment, the IEP team must  consider whether supplementary aids and services could be provided that would enable the child to be satisfactorily educated in the regular education setting. 

The school district or county office of education responsible for providing a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to a child must make available a full continuum of alternative placements, including instruction in the regular classroom, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions.  

 

In California, courts consider four factors to determine whether a placement is the LRE

1. The educational benefit to the student if placed in general education;

2. the nonacademic benefits to the student if placed in general education;

 

3. the effect on the teachers and classmates if the student is placed in general education;

 

4. costs.  

Some additional questions to consider in determining whether your child is in the LRE include:

 

Did the school district consider a continuum of alternative placements  in working with you to determine the LRE for your child?

 

Can the supports, services, accommodations and or modifications in your child's IEP be made available in the general education classroom? 

Can the supports, services, accommodations and or modifications in the IEP be made available on a general education site in a special day class

Can the supports, services, accommodations modifications in the IEP be made available in a special school setting?

Can the supports, services, accommodations modifications in the IEP be made available in a home or hospital?

Did the school district predetermine your child's placement?

For a preschool child with a disability who is three to five-years-old, the school district or county office of education responsible for providing FAPE for the child must ensure that FAPE is provided in the LRE where the child’s unique needs can be met, regardless of whether the school district or county office of education operates public preschool programs for children without disabilities. 

The LRE for a preschool child may be met by providing the child opportunities to participate in a public preschool or Head Start program community-based child care; enrolling the child in a private preschool program for non disabled children; enabling the child to participate in a class for preschool children with disabilities in regular public elementary school; or providing home-based services. 

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