Question: What is the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)?
Answer: According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), the LEA must ensure that — to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are non-disabled
Question: What is the continuum of services?
Answer: The continuum of services is a range of services that must be available to students with disabilities so they can be served in the least restrictive environment. Each LEA must have a continuum of alternative placements to meet the needs of students with disabilities for special education and related services. The continuum refers to the entire spectrum of placements where a student’s special education program can be implemented.
Question: What do the terms “mainstreaming,” “integration,” “full inclusion” and “reverse mainstreaming” mean?
Answer: None of these terms appears or is defined in federal or state statutes. They are terms that have been developed by educators to describe various ways of meeting the LRE requirements of special education law. The definitions below are the most commonly used.
Question: What does “educational setting” mean?
Answer: Students with disabilities most can receive special education in one of the following educational settings based on the least restrictive environment as determined by the student’s IEP team:
1. Regular Setting: Students with disabilities who receive the majority of their education program, 80% or more of the day, with non-disabled peers.
2. Resource Setting: Students with disabilities who receive general education 40% - 79% of the day with non-disabled peers.
3. Separate Setting: Students with disabilities who receive general education 39% or less of the day with non-disabled peers. This does not include students who receive their education at public or private separate day centers or residential facilities.
4. Separate School: Students with disabilities who require a specially designed program of an intensive level for behavioral health and/or educational issues. Placement in a public or private separate school is determined by an IEP team.
5. Residential Facility: Students with disabilities, who require a more intensive level of service, need treatment for disorders such as oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, depression, bipolar, ADHD, or specific educational issues. These facilities are clinically focused and primarily provide behavior management and treatment for students with serious emotional and/or behavioral issues. Placement in a residential facility is determined by an IEP team.
6. Home/Hospital: Students with disabilities placed Home/Hospital on the continuum of services within their IEPs have the opportunity to receive short-term educational services in the home or a designated location. Home/Hospital Service Delivery is determined by the IEP team on the basis of: (1) a documented Medical Issues (2) a documented Behavioral Issues (3) as a result of a Long-Term Suspension or (4) as a result of a series of short-term suspensions that have exceeded a total of 10 days. Home/Hospital Educational Services are temporary with the goal of providing support until the student can successfully return to school. Home/Hospital Instruction does not duplicate classroom instruction.
Preschoolers with disabilities most can receive special education in one of the following educational settings:
*RECP – Regular Early Childhood Program (e.g. Head Start, NC-PK, Daycare)
Question: What is the role of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team in developing the IEP?
Answer: The Individual Education Program team is responsible for developing, reviewing and revising the IEP document after a child has been determined eligible for special education services. The IEP team talks about the child’s needs and write the student’s IEP. Parents and the student (when appropriate) are part of the team. The child begins to receive services as soon as possible after the IEP is written and this consent is given. The child’s IEP is reviewed by the IEP team at least once a year, or more often if the parents or school ask for a review. If necessary, the IEP is revised. Parents, as team members, must be invited to attend these meetings. Parents can make suggestions for changes, can agree or disagree with the IEP goals, and agree or disagree with the placement. If parents do not agree with the IEP and placement, they may discuss their concerns with other members of the IEP team and try to work out an agreement. There are several options, including additional testing, an independent evaluation, or asking for mediation or a due process hearing. They may also file a complaint with the state education agency. At least every three years a child’s eligibility for special education services must be revisited through the re-evaluation process.
Question: What is the membership of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team?
Answer: The term “IEP team” means a group of individuals composed of:
Question: What EC services can preschool students with disabilities receive?
Answer: Under Section 619 of Part B of IDEA, eligible children 3, 4, and 5 years of age have the same protections under IDEA as school – age children. Section 619 of Part B of IDEA, guarantees a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to children with disabilities age three through five. Preschool children with disabilities are entitled to Special Education and Related Services in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE). The IEP team will determine services based on the student’s needs and outline these services in the IEP. Services can be delivered in a general preschool school, child care, or Head Start setting or in a combination of these settings with special education. As much as possible, preschool children with disabilities need to spend time in early childhood settings in order to learn the “give and take” of play, to hear normal spoken language and to learn pre-reading and other cognitive learning skills presented in the regular preschool curriculum. Preschool-age children with disabilities are first and foremost children and need to be with their same age peers. Each child’s team must take the individual child’s needs into account when deciding on the best educational environment.
Question: What are related services?
Answer: The purpose of a related service is to assist the student in benefiting from special education. Students must first have a primary area of eligibility before accessing related services. Related services are not stand alone services. When determining whether or not a student requires related services the IEP team must discuss whether or not the student can make benefit from his or her special education goals without the support of the related service. Students do not have to meet “eligibility requirements” for a related service. Before accessing related services the student has already been determined eligible for special education. He or she is considered eligible for related services if these services are needed for the student to benefit from special education. Even though test scores do not determine eligibility for related services the team may consider scores and performance on speech/language evaluations to assist in determining if the child has a disorder in speech. Speech is one of the 14 areas of eligibility. In order to be considered eligible for speech language services students must meet the eligibility guidelines as defined in the Policies Governing Services for Students with Disabilities - NC 1503-2.5 (12). Speech can also be a related service for students who are identified in other eligibility areas and if they require speech/language services in order to benefit from special education. To sum it up, related services must be needed to assist the student in benefiting from special education goals. Since related services are tied to the special education goals in this way, the IEP team must consider the primary area of eligibility and the goals of the IEP when determining the need for related services. Related services may be added or deleted only through the reevaluation process.