Parents have a right to give input into how and where their child with disabilities will receive educational services. Part of the landmark federal law which dates back to 1975 details the concept of free appropriate public education (FAPE)as well as least restrictive environment (LRE) for children receiving special education services as a child with a disability. According to the regulations in Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)that states "...to the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities are educated with children who are not disabled and special classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily."
Least restrictive environment (LRE) is the setting which is most similar to those of typically developing children in which the child with a disability can succeed academically. Success is measured by the achievement of goals and objectives from the child's Individual Education Plan (IEP). Children with disabilities should have access to the general education curriculum as well as any other program in which their non-disabled peers would be permitted to participate. Should the nature or severity of a child's disability prevent the student from achieving in a regular education setting, then the student could possibly be placed in a more restrictive educational environment typically on a continuum of placement options. These could include small group instruction, resource room, special classroom, special school or hospital program.
Parents also have other options available to them through charter schools, home schooling as well as private schools. However, it is important to note that schools, other than publicly funded schools are not required to provide special education services which may be a problem to success in one of these non-public educational settings. Under IDEA, only open enrollment and public charter schools are required to provide free appropriate academic and related services (FAPE). If you choose to send your child with disabilities to a voucher school, certain private schools or home schooling, these are not required by law to provide any specialized academic or related supports to students with disabilities.
As a parent, it is essential to recognize your child's particular strengths and weaknesses. This information may assist you in determining the best possible educational setting for your child with a disability.