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Last Updated: 02/23/2018

Article of Interest - Inclusion/LRE

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Bridges4Kids LogoQ&A About Inclusive Education
from TASH []

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What is the difference between "Inclusion" and "Least Restrictive Environment?"

Least restrictive environment is the educational placement, inclusion is the educational outcome.

Why do some parents and professionals advocate placing students in general education facilities (and even general education classes)?

Segregated programs, by their very nature, tend to isolate students and lead to more restrictive services and lives within the community. There is ample supporting data to show that segregated settings do not result in interventions that return or "promote" students to regular education status over time; or said another way, more restrictive settings do not prepare students for less restrictive ones.

The goal is not to have children "visit" community settings where their peers are; the goal is to enable children with disabilities to be a part of and interact with their peers in ways that will both meet their educational needs and cultivate their membership as a part of the community.

"Segregated education is but another form of institutionalization which we view as extremely detrimental to the growth and development of disabled and nondisabled children alike" ---Diane J. Lipton

The LRE principle, which calls for a continuum of placements, confuses segregation and inclusion with intensity of services. The current use of LRE equates segregation with the most intensive services and an inclusive placement with the least intensive services. Brown et al, (1983) write : "any developmentally meaningful skill, attitude, experience, [or service] that can be developed or offered in a segregated setting can be developed in a chronological age appropriate general ed facility"1.

Why are many states and local districts still out of compliance with Least Restrictive Environment requirement under IDEA?

Our local school systems have failed to demonstrate (or to even attempt to ensure) that every attempt is made to provide the services specified in the IEP in the school that students would attend if they did not have a disability and with children who do not have disabilities.

They have also failed to demonstrate that removal occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that such education in regular class with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily2.

Many parents, including the parents whose children are currently placed in segregated settings, report the following difficulty when trying to implement an IEP in a less restrictive environment.

to appropriate supplementary aids and services (supports) in typical school buildings;
To appropriate personnel supports and program modifications for school personnel in typical school buildings
To regular education curriculum
Appropriate positive behavioral interventions for students with challenging behavior
Teacher preparation neglects to address collaborative practices, positive behavior supports, methods to differentiate instruction and other research-based best practices
Integration of functional skills instruction into the context of a general classroom
Decisions regarding Placement continue to made, not by individual need as required by law, but by placement in "programs" on the basis of:
disability label and cognitive level
staff availability
administrative convenience
low expectation for students
lack of knowledge of the impact of peers and typical school settings

What would be the steps in the process to move an individual who currently receives significant and intense supports in a segregated setting, to general education facility in which they would receive the same level of supports?

Each student would be reviewed in terms of current educational needs and family interests. The review team would ask:
Would the family be opposed to looking at other opportunities either in general ed or self contained or some combination) in:
their neighborhood school
an existing regional program

Does the student have medical needs that currently cannot be met in a general facility? If so, and why not, what do they need, what has or can be done to build this capacity, are there other students from that home school that require the same medical support?

Does the student have behaviors that would prevent them from being in another building? (not just in a separate class)


who/how many/what supports are available

Where is that students' home school?

The desired outcome of this process would be information for planning space and service needs.

Is it "best practices" to educate students with severe disabilities in a separate facility: NO

We stopped adding on wings when we stopped funding separate buildings over 15 years ago. There is a large body of research that documents and demonstrates strategies to provide supports to students with disabilities in inclusive settings.

The notion of "segregated" buildings was state-of-the-art in the early 1970s; "integrated" opportunities were promoted in the early 1980s; "inclusive practices" emerged based on research and evidence of the impact on students in the early 1990s.

In the new century we are looking at technologies that further enable and support participation for students with severe and multiple disabilities in a wide array of settings with interactions with typical peers.

1 Steven J. Taylor, Caught in the Continuum: A Critical Analysis of the Principle of the Least Restrictive Environment, JASH, Vo. 13 no 1-41-53

2 Maryland Monitoring Report, pg. 29 (2001) 


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