IEP Placement Decisions – The Least Restrictive Environment:
In regard to IEPs, “placement” is where your child will be, or go, when receiving instruction.
The “Least Restrictive Environment” for any child is considered to be in the child’s neighborhood school in the general education classroom. That placement is the same as every other child, so there are no restrictions.
When your child is placed in any class other than the regular classroom, then he is “restricted” more than other kids to some degree. Special education laws (IDEA) require children to be placed in the LEAST restrictive environment where that child can be taught and learn effectively.
Least Restrictive Environment Placements (in order of restriction may include):
General education classroom with no supports.
General education classroom with a personal aid.
Pull-out program for 30 minutes of speech, occupational therapy, or physical therapy.
Pull-out program for Reading, Writing, or Math Resource (ranging up to 2 or 3 hours per day).
Small, special education classroom (generally 6-10 students).
Very small special education classroom (2-5 students).
One-on-one instruction (rare, but does happen in some exceptional schools).
Home-bound, one-on-one instruction (when a child cannot attend school).
Placement can be any place within the school, within the community, and even at home. Placement may be in a private school. Instruction may be provided at a private practitioner’s location. The least restrictive environment is in the regular classroom, but it may be in specialized classrooms, or any other place where instruction may be provided.
IDEA code section §300.115 Continuum of alternative placements states: “Each public agency shall ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services.” The continuum must— (1) Include the alternative placements listed under §300.26 (instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions); and (2) Make provision for supplementary services (such as resource room or itinerant instruction) to be provided in conjunction with regular class placement.”.
Least Restrictive Environment placement continuum:
So what, exactly, is a “continuum”? According to the WordNet Dictionary @ hyperdictionary.com it is: “a continuous non-spatial whole or extent or succession in which no part or portion is distinct of distinguishable from adjacent parts.”
In relation to “placement”, this means a child can have any form of instruction she needs. Instruction can be one-on-one instruction, before or after school tutoring, small group instruction in one or more subjects, complete inclusion in the regular classroom with significant supports and services, etc. Whatever placement a child needs should be provided.
Which placement must a school have available?
Private school placement.
Home-based education with tutoring services.
Regular classroom with supports and services.
All of the above.