School-age special education services are predominantly school-based, though they can occur in other settings, such as the home, in hospitals and other institutions, and in other settings, such as in a workplace (for older students who have goals related to employment). The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that school-age children with disabilities are educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where they can make progress towards achieving the goals set forth in their Individualized Education Program (IEP). The overall goal is to educate children with disabilities with other children who are not disabled as much as possible. Education outside of the regular education environment occurs only when the severity of a child’s disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
Each school district must make available a full continuum of placements, including regular classes, special needs classes, and special schools, for school-age students in need of special education. A placement will be considered “regular” if at least 50% of the children in the placement do not have a disability.
There are a number of educational placement options to consider. The IEP team – which includes you, the parent – will decide which placement or placements are most appropriate for your child.