LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT  
 
Authorities:  34 C.F.R. Part 300; 19 T.A.C. Chapter 75 and 89; Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP)
 
 
 
FEDERAL AND STATE REQUIREMENTS CITATIONS
LEAST RESTRICTIVE ENVIRONMENT REQUIREMENT


P Each local educational agency (LEA) must ensure that:
300.114(a)(2)

P
  • 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
300.114(a)(2)(i)

P
  • Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of the child is such that education in regular classes with the use of SUPPLEMENTARY AIDS AND SERVICES cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
300.114(a)(2)(ii)

P In providing or arranging for the provision of nonacademic and extracurricular services and activities, the LEA must ensure that each child with a disability participates with nondisabled children in the extracurricular services and activities to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the child. 300.117

CONTINUUM OF ALTERNATIVE PLACEMENTS


P Each LEA must ensure that a continuum of alternative placements is available to meet the needs of children with disabilities for special education and related services. 300.115(a)

P The continuum must: 300.115(b)

P
  • Include instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions; and
300.115(b)(1)

P
  • Make provision for supplementary services such as resource room or itinerant instruction, to be provided in conjunction with regular placement.
300.115(b)(2)

PLACEMENT DECISIONS


P In determining the educational placement of a child with a disability, including a preschool child with a disability, each public agency must ensure that:
300.116

P
  • The placement decision is made:
300.116(a)

P 300.116(a)(1)
89.1050(a)(6)

P
    • In conformity with the least restrictive environment (LRE) provisions in this framework; and
300.116(a)(2)

P
  • The child's placement is:
300.116(b)

P
    • Determined at least annually;
300.116(b)(1)

P
    • Based on the child's individualized education program (IEP); and
300.116(b)(2)

P
    • As close as possible to the child's home; and
300.116(b)(3)

P
  • Unless the IEP requires some other arrangement, the child is educated at the school that the child would attend if nondisabled.
300.116(c)

D The IEP must include an explanation of the extent, if any, to which the child will not participate with nondisabled children: 300.320(a)(5)

D
  • In the regular class; and
300.320(a)(5)

D
  • In extracurricular and other nonacademic activities.
300.320(a)(4)(ii)

D The ARD committee must determine the appropriate instructional setting for the child and specify the instructional setting in the IEP.  89.1075(e)

P Instructional arrangements/settings include the following: 89.63

P
  • Mainstream;
89.63(c)(1)

P
  • Homebound;
89.63(c)(2)

P
  • Hospital class;
89.63(c)(3)

P
  • Speech therapy;
89.63(c)(4)

P
  • Resource room or services;
89.63(c)(5)

P
  • Self-contained (mild, moderate, or severe) regular campus;
89.63(c)(6)

P
  • Off home campus;
89.63(c)(7)

P
  • Nonpublic day school;
89.63(c)(8)

P
  • Vocational adjustment class or program;
89.63(c)(9)

P
  • Residential care and treatment facility (not school district resident); or
89.63(c)(10)

P
  • State supported living center.
89.63(c)(11)

PRESCHOOL-AGED CHILDREN


P LEAs must provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the LRE to preschool-aged children even if the LEA does not provide free preschool programs to all preschool-aged children. 300.101(a)
300.101(b)
300.116
OSEP Letter to Neveldine

P LEAs that do not operate preschool programs for nondisabled preschool children may use some alternative methods for meeting the LRE requirements including: OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P
  • Providing opportunities for the participation of preschool children with disabilities in other preschool programs operated by public agencies;
OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P
  • Placing children with disabilities in private school programs for nondisabled preschool children or private school preschool programs that integrate children with disabilities and nondisabled children; and
OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P
  • Locating classes for preschool children with disabilities in regular elementary schools.
OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P LEAs are not required to initiate preschool programs solely to satisfy the requirements regarding placement in the LRE. OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P LEAs are not required to establish extensive contract programs with private schools which serve both children with disabilities and children without disabilities solely to implement LRE requirements. OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

P The use of facilities which are separate or otherwise solely devoted to children with disabilities is generally permissible only when necessary to meet the child's specific needs and should not be the only option available. OSEP Policy Memo 89-23
300.102(a)(1)

CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION PROGRAMS


P If a child is unable to receive a FAPE in a regular career and technical education (CTE) program, using SUPPLEMENTARY AIDS AND SERVICES, the child may be served in separate programs designed to address the child's occupational/training needs, such as career and technical education for children with disabilities programs (referred to as CTED programs).  75.1023(c)

P When determining placement in a CTE classroom, the ARD committee will consider the child's graduation plan, the content of the IEP, including the consideration of transition services, and classroom supports. 75.1023(d)(6)

P Enrollment numbers in a CTE classroom must not create a harmful effect on learning for a child with or without disabilities. 75.1023(d)(6)

REGIONAL DAY SCHOOL PROGRAM FOR THE DEAF


P LEAs must have access to regional day school programs for the deaf and the child must be eligible for consideration for the Regional Day School Program for the Deaf, subject to the ARD committee recommendations, if the child has a hearing impairment which: 89.1080

P
  • Severely impairs processing linguistic information through hearing, even with recommended amplification; and
89.1080

P
  • Adversely affects educational performance.
89.1080

CHILDREN RESIDING IN A RESIDENTIAL FACILITY


P The ARD committee must determine the appropriate educational placement for the child who resides in a residential facility, considering: 89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P
  • All available information regarding the educational needs of the child; and
89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P
  • The non-educational needs that may restrict the ability of the LEA to serve the child on a public school campus or other instructional setting.
89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P The non-educational needs could include: 89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P
  • The child's health and safety (e.g., substance abuse); and/or
89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P
  • The child's placement in a restrictive residential facility program (e.g., juvenile incarceration or restrictive court-ordered placements).
89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P The ARD committee's educational placement determination must be individualized based on the child's need and not made on a categorical basis, such as the disability or residence in the residential facility. 89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P The ARD committee must not determine educational placement on the basis of what is most convenient to the LEA or residential facility. 89.1115(d)(3)(B)

P

When educational services will be provided at the residential facility, the ARD committee must determine appropriate educational space as follows:

89.1115(d)(4)

P
  • Whether space available at the residential facility is appropriate for the provision of a FAPE based on the individual child's needs and the residential facility's available space; or
89.1115(d)(4)

P
  • If the ARD committee or residential facility determines that the residential facility has no appropriate available space, the ARD committee must identify alternative locations for providing educational services.

89.1115(d)(4)

RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENT AT PUBLIC EXPENSE


P When the ARD committee determines that a residential placement is necessary in order for the child to receive a FAPE, the ARD committee must: 89.61(a)(4)(A)

D
  • List the services in the child’s IEP which the LEA is unable to provide and which the facility will provide;
89.61(a)(4)(B)

D
  • Establish, in writing, criteria and estimated timelines for the child's return to the LEA;
89.61(a)(4)(C)

D
  • Document in the child’s IEP the appropriateness of the facility for the individual child; and
89.61(a)(4)(D)

P
  • Verify during the initial residential placement ARD committee meeting and each annual ARD committee meeting that:
89.61(a)(4)(F)

P
    • The facility meets minimum standards for health and safety; 
89.61(a)(4)(F)(i)

P
    • The residential placement is needed and is documented in the IEP; and 
89.61(a)(4)(F)(ii)

P
    • The educational program provided at the residential facility is appropriate and the placement is the LRE for the child.
89.61(a)(4)(F)(iii)

P The LEA must make an initial and an annual on-site visit to verify that the residential facility can and will provide the services listed in the child's IEP which the facility has agreed to provide to the child. 89.61(a)(4)(E)

P When placing the child in a residential facility, the LEA must comply with the RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENTS and the USE OF FUNDS FOR CONTRACT SERVICES INCLUDING RESIDENTIAL PLACEMENTS frameworks.

TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED (TSBVI) AND TEXAS SCHOOL FOR THE DEAF (TSD)


P When placing the child at the TSBVI or the TSD, the ARD committee must include in the child's IEP: 89.1085(c)

D
  • Those services which the TSBVI or the TSD can appropriately provide; and
89.1085(c)

D
  • The criteria and estimated timelines for returning the child to the resident LEA.
89.1085(c)

P When placing the child at the TSBVI or the TSD, the LEA may make an on-site visit to verify that the TSBVI or the TSD can and will offer the services listed in the child's IEP and to ensure that the school offers an appropriate educational program for the child. 89.1085(c)

 
 
Last Updated: Tuesday, April 11, 2017