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ABCs of IEPs : LRE

Special Education is fraught with acronyms. I remember sitting in my undergrad “Introduction to Special Education” class and my professor, Dr. Koss, giving us an important hint. Start an acronym list to use for reference! Boy, was she ever on target! I used my list through undergrad and for the first few months of teaching. I added to my list for quite some time before taking off the training wheels and going without it. Even now, ten years later, sometimes the acronyms change to reflect updated names and I feel momentarily lost again!

Today, I will cover LRE - Least Restrictive Environment.

By law, school systems must offer a range of placements in which services may take place. In order from least to most restrictive are:

General education classroom, inclusive classroom, resource classroom, self contained special education classroom, special school, homebound/hospitalized.

In recent years, some people (educators included) have begun to think of LRE as being synonymous with general education classrooms. This is not necessarily the case. As with FAPE (Free and Appropriate Education that all children are entitled to), the environment must be APPROPRIATE. What is special about special education is that it is tailored to the individual needs of the student receiving the services.

I have taught across the spectrum from general education to special school and I can tell you that LRE raises concerns across all settings. IEPs are written by a team of individuals who all come to the table with different and varied experiences and understanding.

When thinking about LRE for your child, consider the following questions:

  1. Where would my child benefit most academically?

  2. Where would my child benefit the most socially?

  3. Which environment can meet the needs of my child? Consider adult to child ratios.

  4. Would a blended program work for my child? (This can look a variety of different ways depending on the school setting, but perhaps inclusion time for socialization and self contained for academic purposes.)

Be open to listening to the recommendations of the school professionals, but remember that YOU are your child’s best advocate! And if you need guidance or assistance, please reach out to me!

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