What does a disabled child’s right to be educated in the “Least Restrictive Environment” mean?

  • The phrase “Least Restrictive Environment” means that a special education student has a right to as much exposure as possible to the general education students and the general education social  environment – whenever possible and feasible.
  • It is a continuum: it begins with the special needs child being in the same classroom with the general population of non-special needs children.
  • If that’s not feasible, it moves to a “More Restrictive Environment”, which means less exposure to regular education kids.
  • Further along the continuum, the child may need to attend an alternative school, or a private school.
  • The legal standard for moving a child to what is the least restrictive environment for him is the classroom that is appropriate for him in which he can make meaningful progress with all the proper supports.