Least Restrictive Environment

The U.S. Dept. Education, 2005a regulations implementing IDEA states:

"...to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities including children in public or private institutions or care facilities, are educated with children who are non disabled; and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily."

Under IDEA, a child is entitled to a placement through one's IEP into the least restrictive environment (LRE) for maintaining free appropriate public education (FAPE). Simply put, the LRE is the environment most like that of other children in which the child can succeed. This refers not only to the physical location of a child's learning, but also to how the child will be taught. The preference is that the child be included in regular education activities as much as possible. However, some disabilities may prohibit this option. In some respects, the type of placement is associated with the severity of the disability. The range of student placement in the LRE include pull-in programs, i.e., full time participation in general education classes utilizing supplementary aids and supports; co-teaching between general education and special education teachers; itinerant specialists serving general classrooms in many schools; pull-out programs making part-time attendance in special education classes available; self-contained special education classes attended most of the day; to special education facilities (including placement in day schools, hospitals, at home, or in full time residential facilities) for children with a particular disability.