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Special Education: Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Posted December 19, 2019
11:27 am

Students with disabilities, who receive special education services through an Individualized Education Program (IEP), have the right to learn in their least restrictive environment (LRE). This means that students with disabilities are entitled to attend school with their nondisabled peers as much as possible.

When a student is eligible for special education services, the school districts develop an IEP. The IEP explains the student’s goals, the school’s services, and the placement or setting where the child will receive those services. The IEP team works together to decide on the best school setting or “placement” to meet the student’s needs. The team includes the student’s parent or guardian, member of the school staff, and other people with special knowledge about the student.

There are many different school settings inside and outside of the school district where students with disabilities can receive a free, appropriate public education. Under the law, this is called a continuum of placements. Some possible placements include a general education setting with intervention specialist (special education teacher) support, a resource room or special education classroom, or a specialized private facility. Students may also receive a combination of these settings. They can spend some time in the special education classroom and some time in the general education classroom. And students can change placements at different times depending on their unique needs.

Parents and guardians are a very important part of the IEP team. IEPs are reviewed at least once a year, but parents or guardians can request an IEP meeting at anytime. If a parent or guardian has concerns about whether their student is learning in the right placement, they can ask the school district for an IEP meeting to discuss different options for the student.

For more information about your child’s rights in school please visit The Ohio Department of Education’s website at or The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland’s website at

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