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.”