The Wrightslaw Way

to Special Education Law and Advocacy

The Wrightslaw Way random header image

Special Education: NOT the Resource Room, the Classroom in the Trailer, or the Special School Across Town

by Wrightslaw

Does my daughter, who has an IEP, have to be served by resource classes or can she be totally in mainstream classrooms?

“Special education” under IDEA is not a place or placement or a pre-packaged program. Special education is a “service for children rather than a place where such children are sent.”

Special education is not the resource room, the classroom in the trailer, or the special school across town.

The IDEA includes a “least restrictive environment” (LRE) requirement.

LRE Requirement in IDEA

Special education services should be delivered in regular education classes (not special classes, separate schooling, or other removal from the regular ed environment) except “when the nature or severity of the disability of the child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

20 U. S. C. § 1412(a)(5) – See page 72 in Wrightslaw: Special Education Law or Chapter 10 – Placement in Wrightslaw: All About IEPs.

If the IEP of a student with a disability can be implemented satisfactorily with the provision of supplementary aids and services in the regular classroom in the school the student would attend if not disabled, that placement is the LRE placement for that student.

The “I” in IEP

When school personnel view special education as a “place,” they often fail to evaluate the child’s unique needs and how the school can meet these needs.

That’s the “I” in IEP. “What we have available” usually refers to one-size-fits-all programs that are not individualized to meet a child’s unique needs.

And remember, parents are members of any team that develops the IEP and decides on placement. IDEA Section 1414(e) requires that the school “…ensure that the parents of each child with a disability are members of any group that makes decision on the educational placement of their child.”

Read Parent Involvement in Placement Decisions at

More about Inclusion, LRE, and Mainstreaming at

Print Friendly

Tags:   · · · · · · 49 Comments

Leave a Reply

49 Comments on "Special Education: NOT the Resource Room, the Classroom in the Trailer, or the Special School Across Town"


I’m an adaptive behavior teacher in Texas and this program separates children into separate adaptive behavior classes where they are supposed to earn their way out. These kids all have a diagnosis of emotional disturbance and I think this program discriminates against them on the basis of their disability. Who can I complain to about this?


If a child has been resource for their services but administration wants more inclusion, is that a change of placement? The student is LD or OHI. The inclusion is with a special ed teacher in the room with the student instead of pulling him out for the entire time. For example, “joe” has 5 times 30 minutes per week on his IEP. So instead of being pulled out of his regular ed classroom that entire time, he is in the classroom with his peers with the SPed teacher.


Question: A parent has requested that her child be placed in a separate setting classroom because of his anxieties although he qualifies for resource continuum. The EC director has told students parent that he could get into separate setting. Isn’t there a protocol that must be followed before student is just placed in a separate setting? Student is currently on grade level in reading and writing and slightly below average in math. Current separate setting is serving students who are K-5, but all are working on kindergarten/ first grade level. All students have significant cognitive and adaptive skills. The student who is being requested to be placed in separate setting has neither. What is the law regarding this?

W Sarow

Inadequate service provision amongst the Deaf community in Deaf Education is an issue I’m passionate about. I don’t believe the LRE for Deaf students is in the mainstream classroom. These promote language barriers and isolation and lack positive Deaf role models for children. Clearly there are reasons to support state residential schools as the LRE for Deaf students. They don’t promote the language barriers inherent in “regular” education classrooms or the isolation of being followed around by an interpreter all day long as a student. I strongly support this “segregated” residential school setting as the LRE for Deaf students for the reasons cited above and my own personal experience as a parent. I’m a supporter of Deaf residential schools as the LRE for Deaf students especially profoundly Deaf students.


Wow!! some interesting information here. So sad to not here all the good things that the Special Education staff do. In my district we provide the full continuum of services. However, each child is regarded as a General Education student first and then it is determined what services are needed from there. I can tell you, working with the Sped. Department has gotten me a lot further than accusing them and being mean–they are human beings and care– just give them the chance before assuming they are doing something wrong or bad.