9 Least Restrictive Environment


Chapter Revision date: 01/2015

9.1 Provision of LRE

Federal and state law mandates that all students with disabilities receive their education:

  • In age appropriate environments;
  • With nondisabled peers as appropriate; and
  • In neighborhood schools as much as possible.

9.1 Provision of LRE

To the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities, including students in public or private institutions and other care facilities, are educated with students who are not disabled. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of students with disabilities from the general educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of the student is such that education in the general education class with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily. Based on the description and intensity of special education and related services described in the student's IEP, the IEP team determines the most appropriate setting from which the student can receive educational benefit in the least restrictive environment (LRE).

9.1.1 Understanding LRE (Key Concepts)

  • LRE must be individually determined and based on a student's individual needs. What is appropriate for one student is not necessarily appropriate for another.
  • LRE applies to all students with disabilities, not just those with mild disabilities.
  • The IDEA starts with the premise that all students will be served in the general education environment. The IEP team will consider whether supplementary aids, accommodations, and the provision of special education/related services in the general education classroom will meet the student's unique individual needs.
  • If the student requires some, most or all special education services outside of the general education classroom, the student may be removed from the general education program "only to the extent necessary to provide special education and related services." These services may include the provision of differentiated instruction, assistive technology, and provision of specialized services outside of the general education classroom.

9.1.2 Placement

"Placement" is the location, frequency and duration of services to be provided for the student. Placement must be:

  • Made on an individual basis according to student's needs.
  • Made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, the assessment data, and placement options.
  • Made with the parents as part of the IEP Team.
  • Determined at least annually.
  • Determined after the IEP is developed.
  • Provided at the student's school of residence or as close to the student's home as possible. The IEP team may determine that services are not available at the school of residence, and if so, may offer placement at another site. Example: low incidence programs such as deaf/hard of hearing, medically/physically challenged classes, etc.

o An offer of placement at a different site, and the rationale for the offer must be documented each year on the Team Action page of the IEP.

IEP teams must consider any potential harmful effect on the student or quality of services when determining placement.

9.1.3 Supplementary Aids and Services

Supplementary aids and services are defined as aids, services, and other supports that are provided in the general education classes, or other education-related settings to enable a student with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled students to the maximum extent appropriate.