IDEA/Least Restrictive Environment
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act/Least Restrictive Environment
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) is the public school's special education legal basis of how and what programs will be in place for children with disabilities. IDEA mandates that special education and related services are provided in the environment that is least restrictive, with the general education classroom as the initial consideration. This is often referred to as “inclusion” or “inclusive practices.”
This IEP team decision is based on the child’s needs, goals to be achieved, and the least restrictive environment for services to be provided. Least restrictive environment (LRE) means the child is provided special education and related services with peers who are not disabled, to the maximum extent appropriate. The IEP Team must consider how the child with a disability can be educated with peers without disabilities to the maximum extent appropriate, and how he/she will participate with children without disabilities in other activities such as extracurricular and nonacademic activities.
LRE does not require that every child with a disability be placed in the general education classroom regardless of the child’s individual abilities and needs. The law recognizes that full time general education classroom placement may not be appropriate for every child with a disability. The school district provides a range of placement options, known as a continuum of alternative placements, to meet the unique education needs of children with disabilities. This requirement for a continuum reinforces the importance of the unique educational needs of children with disabilities. The continuum of alternative education placements includes instruction in general education classes, special classes, special school, home instruction and instruction hospitals and institutions.
Special education teachers who provide “direct instruction” in one or more core content areas must meet the highly qualified teacher (HQT) requirements for the content areas of English Language Arts, Science, Social Studies or Math for one or more children. Direct instruction is defined as being either the teacher of record or the teacher responsible for introducing new content material and providing initial instruction.
General education teachers, special education teachers, administrators, parents, related service providers, paraprofessionals, and community members must all support the belief that they are responsible for educating ALL children in their school and community. It is important to discontinue labeling of children as "your kids" vs. "my kids" and ensure that everyone feels that they are "our kids". The best way to facilitate inclusive opportunities is to implement methods of joint accountability and learn to celebrate differences.
Please contact the LCNCK office if you have any questions regarding inclusive practices.