This discussion assesses your ability to evaluate how the foundations of the legal concept Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) currently influence students and educators in classrooms in the United States. This assessment also supports your achievement of Course Learning Outcome 4, 6, and 7 and the MASE Program Learning Outcome 4 and 6.
According to the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) requirement is defined as follows: “to the maximum extent appropriate children with disabilities are to be educated with children who are not disabled.” It further states that “Removal may only occur when education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (U.S. Government Publishing Office, 2014, p.1). This federal mandate was intentionally written with general terminology with the purpose of allowing each state and district to build an appropriate plan that includes the educational environment, and where and how services are provided.
Since IDEA’s reauthorization in 2004, more children with disabilities are being educated inside the general education classroom. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (2014), in 1991 only 30% of students with disabilities were educated for the majority of the school day in the general education setting. By 2011 with that percentage had risen rising to over 60%.
Mr. Franklin and you have earned a positive reputation for your proactive classroom management style that promotes independence and for your differentiated lesson planning that ensures your students are actively engaged in learning and are making progress. The principal approaches both of you to discuss opportunities to maximize your environment to 30 students. Following the discussion, Mr. Franklin expresses concern to you about the request and asks: “How can we possibly have six more students with special needs in our classroom? Can that even be legal?”
Drawing on your expertise with IDEA, you explain to Mr. Franklin that providing a FAPE includes teaching students with disabilities in their LRE. Furthermore, you explain that the law requires that “students with disabilities receive their education, to the maximum extent appropriate, with nondisabled peers” (Disability Rights California, 2011, 7-1). Next, you remind Mr. Franklin that students with disabilities may not be removed from their regular learning environment, “unless, even with supplemental aids and services, education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (Disability Rights California, 2011, 7-1).
Initial Post: Interpret the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) guidelines established by the IDEA to Mr. Franklin, in concise terms so he understands how the law relates to him and the classroom. Then provide him with at least one scholarly article from Ashford’s online library, cited in APA format, in support your explanation. Finally, include your own personal or professional experiences with this mandate or what you have learned throughout your higher education coursework regarding the LRE to justify or refute the principal’s decision.
DeMitchell, T., & Kearns, G. (1997). Where to educate Rachel Holland? Does least restrictive environment mean no restrictions? Clearing House, 70(3), 161-166. doi:10.1080/00098655.1997.10543918
Edwards, C. C., & Da Fonte, A. (2012). The 5-Point Plan. Teaching Exceptional Children, 44(3), 6-13.
Lake, J. F., & Billingsley, B. S. (2009). An Analysis of Factors that contribute to parent-school conflict in special education (Links to an external site.). Remedial and Special Education, 21(4), 240-251. Retrieved from https://journals-sagepub-com.proxy-library.ashford.edu/doi/pdf/10.1177/074193250002100407?
Wellner, L. (2012). Building parent trust in the special education setting. Leadership, 16-19 (Links to an external site.). Retrieved from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ971412.pdf