Student standing in classroom at NarbethongFAPE and Placement

The final step in the IEP meeting is to determine where the student’s IEP should be implemented. IDEA requires that the child be educated in the least restrictive environment (LRE). That may look different for each child depending on the options available within the local school district and what provides the student the least restriction in accessing learning.

It is the IEP team’s responsibility to decide where the child should be placed and how instruction is provided in order for the student to receive a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). Placement is not the first thing considered in the process. It is only determined after the team is clear about what the student's focus for instruction will be for the school year.  What goals and objectives are in the IEP?  What specialized services can be provided in the regular education setting to ensure these goals are focused on each day? What related services does the child need to benefit from special education? Can these services be provided in the regular education classroom?  If not where will they be provided? 

Many students with severe and multiple disabilities may be placed in self-contained life-skills classrooms better set up to meet the high intensity needs they have. Some may spend at least some part of their day in a grade-level regular education classroom. Others may attend specialized learning centers or residential schools.  Students who are medically fragile often receive their services at home.

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides clear guidelines to help IEP teams determine what the least restrictive environment is for a student.  Here is what it says:

34 CFR §300.114(a)(2) 

Each public agency must ensure that—

(i) To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and

(ii) Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the 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.  [§300.114(a]

LRE for Active Learning

The least restrictive environment (LRE) may look different for each student, based on the programming needs of the child as outlined in the Individual Education Program (IEP). LRE means the place where the child's IEP can best be implemented.

In any placement decision for a student who needs an Active Learning approach, the team should determine if the student's Active Learning program can be implemented in that classroom or location. If the student’s need for this approach cannot be provided in any particular setting, even with supplementary aids and services, the IEP team should consider whether another placement might be needed for at least part of the day.

Placement options can include:

  • Regular classroom setting with:
    • Pullout time in a therapy room or gym where Active Learning equipment is shared;
    • A place and time to complete Active Learning activities within the regular classroom;
    • Strategies for making group time more meaningful to the Active Learner by incorporating real objects, materials and Active Learning instructional strategies; and/or
    • Time during independent exploration to explore materials used in group activities so the child is more familiar with the object when it is presented in the group.
  • Self-contained classroom with:
    • Pullout time in a therapy room or gym where Active Learning equipment is shared;
    • A place and time to complete Active Learning activities within the self-contained classroom;
    • Strategies for making group time more meaningful to the Active Learner by incorporating real objects, materials and Active Learning instructional strategies; and/or
    • Time during independent exploration to explore materials used in group activities so the child is more familiar with the object when it is presented in the group.
  • Placement in specialized centers or schools where Active Learning is used throughout the day; or
  • Any other placement the IEP Team deems appropriate based on the needs of the student including instruction in the home.

placement collage