Special Education
April 24, 2012

Fact Sheet 12-13: Educating Students with Disabilities in the Least Restrictive Environment

Source: Research and Educational Services
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The 1997 Amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Subsequent reauthorization of 2004 significantly strengthened the assurances states and school districts must make regarding the education of students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). A student’s LRE is the placement where a student can receive an appropriate education designed to meet his or her special education needs, while still being educated with nondisabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate. One option commonly referenced as “inclusion” affords students with disabilities greater opportunities to be educated in age-appropriate general education classes.

Although the IDEA presumes that most students with disabilities can be educated in general education classes with necessary supports, the IDEA does not mandate that all students with disabilities be educated full-time in general education classes. According to data provided by the State Education Department, greater numbers of students with disabilities are learning in general education classrooms. As a result, Committees on Special Education must determine what support services should be provided to these students and their teachers to ensure their appropriate education in the least restrictive environment. General and special education teachers play a critical role in making these determinations.

The purpose of this Bulletin is to provide information on the requirements related to the provision of services to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment. This document also provides information and guidance to local leaders and members in regard to the development and implementation of “inclusive schooling” models. Local leaders who have further questions regarding this topic should contact their Labor Relations Specialist or NYSUT Research and Educational Services.

A complementary resource to this publication is the NYSUT Fact Sheet on “The Continuum of Special Education Services for School Age Students with Disabilities.” All referenced NYSUT Fact Sheets can be found at www.nysut.org.


Topic Page

3. What is Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)?
4. LRE and the IDEA
5. New York State and LRE
6. NYSUT Policy Regarding LRE and Inclusion
7. What is “Inclusion” and What are Common Inclusion Models?
9. Considerations in Determining a Student’s LRE?
10. What is the Role of General Education and Special Education Teachers?
10. Enforcement of the LRE
11. Advice to Local Leaders Concerning the Implementation of an Inclusive Program
13. Resources
Attachment A: Questions and Answers on the Least Restrictive Environment Requirements

Download complete bulletin. (206k pdf)

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