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Is There a Legal Definition of Self Contained Classroom?

by Wrightslaw

I am a special education teacher. I have some concerns and questions about how students are receiving the mandated special ed services.

1. Is there a legal definition of self-contained classroom setting?
2. What constitutes a change of LRE when there has been no official meeting to place a student in a particular setting?

There is no legal definition of “self contained classroom” in the federal statute. The term is not in the the law.

Your state special education regulations may have a definition. State education regulations often include a student-teacher ratio.

You will find a short list of placements in Section 1412(a)(5) of the IDEA (pages 72-73, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law).

“Continuum of alternative placements” is in the federal regulations at 300.114(a)(2) (page 207, Wrightslaw: Special Education Law).

A child’s IEP must include specific information about the special education and related services including the projected date to begin services, and the frequency, location, and duration of services.

The school may not change the IEP without holding an IEP meeting that includes a child’s parent. If this is the first or initial IEP, the school must get informed consent from a parent before providing any special education and related services.

Read more about Inclusion, LRE and Mainstreaming on this page:

This question actually came from a teacher in MD. Here is an article by someone who is a great source of information about the schools in the MD area. Mr. Hettleman has written extensively about the school system.

Audacity of Hope for Poor, Minority and Disabled Schoolchildren.

He is a former state Human Resources Secretary and former member of the Baltimore School Board. He is a tireless advocate for children who attended public schools. He knows the schools and the system. He is also responsive to questions. ;-)

His e-mail is

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16 Comments on "Is There a Legal Definition of Self Contained Classroom?"


Is there a law or something in writing that states that a 12:1:1 has a required paraprofessional and if a child’s IEP states they need their own one-to-one paraprofessional then there needs to be 2 for that classroom? I know this is true but I need something concrete.

Thank you


please help me …. i am looking for a list of new york state defintions of classifcations.
example: autism
other health impairment
mulitpal disabilities
i was given a list my my school district but i need to know what new york state defintions. i have looked up the dictionary definition. really need new york state.
thank you


I am a Special Ed teacher and my district directed all principals and RSPs not to pull students to provide services stated on their IEPs. They told us to change all IEPs to indicate their offer of FAPE in the LRE. Inclusion is not for all but the district wants 75% of our current students to be back in the classroom with inclusion services.