Least Restrictive Environment

A student with a disability is considered in their least restrictive environment when they are learning and integrated with the general education population as much as is appropriate to yield progress in their educational program.

IEP teams oftentimes determine what is least restrictive as a matter of opinion and we must be careful that those opinions have not been formed based on perceived limitations. Oftentimes when children aren’t progressing in the general education setting, it isn’t because it’s impossible for them to do so but rather because the school has yet to exhaust all avenues to successfully integrate that child. School failures to implement successful inclusion rarely come with bad intentions or selfish motives, the truth of the matter is that many school personnel lack the experience, training, and skills to make inclusion work for all students. Many teachers and administrators aren’t aware of the scope of what can be done and can be made available through request and support from the district.

There is a great deal of research that supports that when inclusion is done right it works for most students. Studies have shown that even children with moderate to severe disabilities benefit from inclusive environments in comparison to groups of disabled children that remain in self contained settings for the length of their academic day.

Students with disabilities are entitled under IDEA to be educated in their least restrictive environment and to the maximum extent possible to learn with non-disabled peers. Inclusion isn’t just a standard public schools must follow, it is in its truest form a positive way of life and thinking. When special needs children transition from school years to adult years we want them to have a meaningful role in the greater community. They will, like all of us have, integrate into the fabric of our nation and be recognized for their unique abilities.


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