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IEP Placement Must be in the Least Restrictive Environment

(October 25, 2011):  The decision of IEP placement (where an IEP will be carried out), is an essential issue that must be addressed by the IEP Team. The IEP Team is typically comprised made by a group of people, including the parents and others who know about the child, what the evaluation results mean, and what types of placements are appropriate. In some states, the IEP Team serves as the group making the IEP placement decision. In other states, this decision may be made by another group of people. In all cases, the parents have the right to be members of the group that decides the educational placement of the child.

Placement decisions must be made by the IEP Team according to applicable “Least Restrictive Environment” requirements — commonly known as “LRE.” These requirements state that, to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities must be educated with children who do not have disabilities.

The law also clearly states that special classes, separate schools, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment may occur only if the nature or severity of the child’s disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

What type of placements are there? Depending on the needs of the child, his or her IEP placement may be carried out in the regular class (with supplementary aids and services, as needed), in a special class (where every student in the class is receiving special education services for some or all of the day), in a special school, at home, in a hospital and institution, or in another setting. A school system may meet its obligation to ensure that the child has an appropriate placement available by:

•  Providing an appropriate program for the child on its own;
•  Contracting with another agency to provide an appropriate program; or
• Utilizing some other mechanism or arrangement that is consistent with IDEA for providing or paying for an appropriate program for the child.

The IEP Team will base its decision on the most appropriate IEP placement option is appropriate for the child. Can the child be educated in the regular classroom, with proper aids and supports? If the child cannot be educated in the regular classroom, even with appropriate aids and supports, then the IEP Team handling the IEP placement will talk about other placements for the child.

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