With the proper support, a child with disabilities can thrive in their academic career. As a parent who wishes nothing but the best for their child, you’d need to take an active role in their educational path and Individualized Education Plan (IEP). Naturally, if your child excels in a general education placement, you’d want them to stay there. But what if the school disagrees?
What is the least restrictive environment (LRE)?
Studies show that integrating children with special education needs into inclusive classes helps improve their educational performance. Historically, schools have separated students with disabilities from those without. However, their academic performance suffers as a result.
Thankfully, there is now an Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that states eligible children with disabilities have the right to an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). This document outlines the specific educational support and services a child needs. It also guarantees qualified students access to free, appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive setting (LRE).
In simple terms, the IDEA entitles children with disabilities to receive accommodations tailored to meet and support their unique educational needs. Meanwhile, the LRE entitles the student to learn alongside children without disabilities as much as possible in a general education classroom.
During the development of the IEP, the team considers the child’s performance, goals, necessary accommodations and placement options.
If your child thrives in a general education classroom, you and the team can discuss the extent of your child’s participation. The child should only be placed in a separate special education classroom if their disability is so severe that it would not be beneficial for them to remain there.
What if the parent and school disagree with the placement?
Parents often understand the needs of their children better than anyone else. If you believe the school is ignoring your child’s needs by compelling you to change their placement, you may try to remedy the situation by discussing your concerns.
If the school refuses to compromise, you may settle your dispute by initiating mediation and a due process complaint.
You are your child’s best advocate. By taking an active role in your child’s schooling and learning about their disability and rights, you can give them the support they need to succeed.