After the IEP team has determined what services a child needs, they must determine the child’s placement. Placement refers to the setting where a child with a disability will receive his or her special education and related services. A student’s education must take place in the least restrictive environment (LRE). LRE means “To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are to be educated with children who do not have disabilities.”
There are a variety of placement options in which a child with disabilities can receive special education and related services, but the general education classroom with supplementary aids and services must always be the first consideration. A child with a disability is not removed from education in age-appropriate general education classrooms or daytime settings solely because of needed modifications in the curriculum.
IDEA also requires that the child’s placement:
• is determined at least annually;
• is based on the child’s IEP; and
• is as close as possible to the child’s home.
The group that determines the educational placement for a child with a disability must include individuals with specific expertise or knowledge:
- the child’s parents;
- personnel who know the variety of placement options available to meet the child’s needs, and
- individuals who understand the significance of the data used to develop the child’s IEP.
Often, but not always, this may be the same group of people comprising the IEP team.
What should be considered when making placement decisions?
When making placement decisions the team should consider:
- the curriculum and goals of the general education program.
- the sufficiency of the district’s efforts to accommodate the child with a disability in the general education class.
- the degree to which the child with a disability will receive educational benefit from general education.
- the effect the presence of the child with a disability may have on the general education classroom environment and on the education that the other students are receiving (i.e., description of potential harmful effect for the student with a disability or disruptive effects for the students without disabilities).
- the nature and severity of the child’s disability.