Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Requirement –
Legally makes free appropriate public education available to children with disabilities who are eligible.
Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Requirements
[34 Code of Regulations (C.F.R.) Section 300.114]
(1) Except as provided in Section 300.324(d)(2) (regarding children with disabilities in adult prisons), the State must have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that public agencies in the State meet the LRE requirements of this section [300.144] and [Sections] 300.115 through 300.120.
(2) 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 non-disabled; and
- (ii) Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature and severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of complimentary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Continuum of alternative placements
[34 Code of Regulations (C.F.R.) Section 300.115]
- (a) Each public agency must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services
Placement Options Available
Regular/General Educational Environment: Encompasses regular classrooms and other settings in schools such as lunchrooms and playgrounds in which children without disabilities participate
The settings in a school where children without disabilities participate are many and varied; all are considered part of the “regular educational environment.”
Special Education Classroom Options: Classrooms where students who have IEPs receive specialized academic instruction outside of the general education classroom.
- These may include:
- SAI Clinics
- Resource Specialist Program (RSP)
- Mild/Moderate Program
- Moderate/Severe Program
- County Program
- Home/Hospital Program
- Non-Public School
- Residential Program
Inclusion: Inclusion is not a term that is recognized legally. It is, however, a term that is generally accepted to mean that a student with an IEP is educated in their regular educational environment for the majority of their school day.
Mainstreaming = Students with IEPs who participate in activities and/or curriculum within the general education classroom with age appropriate peers for a part of their day or for specific activities.
Reverse Mainstreaming = When students from the general education classroom come into the special day class to participate with students with special needs – typically in moderate/severe type programs.
[34 Code of Regulations (C.F.R.) Section 300.116]
- In determining the educational placement…with a disability, including a preschool child with a disability, each public agency must ensure that –
- (a) the placement decisions –
- (1) Is made by a group of persons, including the parents, and other persons knowledgeable about the child, the meaning of the evaluation data, and the placement options;
- (2) Is made in conformity with the LRE provisions of this subpart, including Sections 300.114 through 300.118:
- (b) The child’s placement –
- (1) is determined at least annual
- (2) is based on the child’s IEP and
- (3) is as close as possible to the child’s house
- (c) Unless the IEP of a child with a disability requires some other arrangement, the child is educated in the school that he or she would attend if non-disabled;
- (d) In selecting LRE, consideration is given to any potential harmful effect on the child or on the quality of services that he or she needs; and
- (e) A child with a disability is not removed from education in age-appropriate regular classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general education classroom.
- (a) the placement decisions –
Other Placement Options
Schooling At Home –
In California, there are several ways that parents educate their children at home: through an existing private school charter, through a public charter or independent study program, and in many instances by opening their own private home based school.
For more specific information go to https://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/ps/homeschool.asp.
Parentally Placed Private School –
Parentally placed children with disabilities do not have an individual entitlement to services they would receive if they were enrolled in a public school. The LEA is required to spend a proportionate amount of IDEA federal funds to provide equitable services to this group of children, which can look different from child to child. The LEA is required to provide Child Find activities for all students in their geographical area, including assessments to determine a student’s impediments and service plan recommended. LEAs are required to consult with private school representatives and representatives of parents of parentally placed children with disabilities during the design and development of special education and related services for these children.
For more specific information regarding parentally place student rights and options go to https://www2.ed.gov/admins/lead/speced/privateschools/idea.pdf
Challenges in Determining Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) and LRE
Shades of Gray: Many of the terms used to define student rights are difficult to define. Appropriate education and benefit are terms often used to measure student success and to determine placement, but continue to challenge the Courts, educators as well as parents. Many cases have been heard by local, State and Federal Courts and provide some framework for the determination of placement.
Cases Hendrick Hudson Central SD Board of Education v. Rowley (1982) –
Long time case that provided consensus the need for FAPE services to provide students with “some educational benefit.”
For more information on this case go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/caselaw/ussupct.rowley.htm.
Sacramento City SD v. Rachel H. (1994) –
Used widely as a means to determine appropriateness of a student’s placement in LRE:
There are four factors that are generally considered based on this case:
Educational Benefit – educational opportunities available through special education was better or equal to those available in a regular classroom.
Non-academic Benefit – social and communication skills, self confidence
Effect on Teacher and Children in Regular Education Classroom – whether there was detriment because the child was disruptive, distracting or unruly, and 2) whether the child would take up so much of the teachers’ time that the other students would suffer from the lack of attention
Cost – “significantly more expensive”
Important Holland Case Footnotes to consider include:
[Footnote 5] First, the court must determine “whether education in the regular classroom, with the use of supplemental aids and services, can be achieved satisfactorily. . . .” Daniel R.R., 874 F.2d at 1048. If the court finds that education cannot be achieved satisfactorily in the regular classroom, then it must decide “whether the school has mainstreamed the child to the maximum extent appropriate.” Id.
Factors the courts consider in applying the first prong of this test are (1) the steps the school district has taken to accommodate the child in a regular classroom; (2) whether the child will receive an educational benefit from regular education; (3) the child’s overall educational experience in regular education; and (4) the effect the disabled child’s presence has on the regular classroom.
[Footnote 6] According to the court in Roncker: “[W]here the segregated facility is considered superior, the court should determine whether the services which make that placement superior could be feasibly provided in a non-segregated setting. If they can, the placement in the segregated school would be inappropriate under the Act.” 700 F.2d at 1063.
Courts are to (1) compare the benefits the child would receive in special education with those she would receive in regular education; (2) consider whether the child would be disruptive in the non-segregated setting; and (3) consider the cost of mainstreaming. Id.
For more information on this case and how it relates to LRE go to https://www.kidstogether.org/right-ed_files/rachel.htm.
Endrew F. v. Douglas
County School District (2016) –
Was a ruling on what the level of educational benefit is that the school districts must confer on children with disabilities to provide them with the free appropriate education.
It was determined that schools must provide students an education that is “reasonably calculated to enable a child to make progress appropriate in light of the child’s circumstances.
In a unanimous opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Court held that the proper standard under the IDEA “is markedly more demanding than ‘merely more than de minimis test applied by the Tenth Circuit.
For more information on this case go to https://www.wrightslaw.com/law/art/endrew.douglas.scotus.analysis.htm,