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

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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 https://www.wrightslaw.com/blog/?p=394

More about Inclusion, LRE, and Mainstreaming at https://www.wrightslaw.com/info/lre.index.htm

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09/27/2012 4:20 pm

A student has severe-profound disabilities and has been receiving service from a county program which provides intensive services that fit the child’s needs. The parents have requested that this student be enrolled in a school in his home district. The district does not have an SD classroom or the services available that the county program provides. If the district school is not appropriate to fit the childs needs; Who has the responsiblity to provide FAPE?

04/18/2012 10:42 pm

My 10th grader has been in co-taught science since 6th gade. the school stopped offering co-taught Earth Science. So the only ‘choice’ they gave us was an unsupported Regents course or an ‘upper level’ SGI class. Funny thing is that the 6 students in her SGI class are all students that WOULD have been in co-taught if it was available. Now I find out that in 11th grade there is NO support for math classes …. no co-taught, resource room or anything else. I would love to know what happened to LRE and a free and appropriate education for all students ….. my district does not seem to understand that concept!

05/25/2011 2:45 pm

Can my school combine special needs children with bad behavior children? Is this legal?

11/16/2017 2:14 pm
Reply to  Julie

Is this a mainstream class? The reason I ask is because every classroom has a few bad behaved kids. The special needs kids probably have IEP’s which their team will discuss the proper setting. The team may have decided this was the setting for the special needs kids to receive FAPE.

11/17/2017 11:00 am
Reply to  Julie

I want to comment on this for some clarity. When I was a para (and especially during specials like art, music, gym, etc) students are mixed in many types of classes. I have seen students with many types of abilities and issues in “specials.” They have a right to go into those classes and participate and not stay isolated. I have worked with students in wheelchairs and also on the spectrum and learning disaiblities as well as those with emotional disturbances all mixed in with typical students in a variety of classes. In some cases, a para is present and in others cases a para may not be present. Sometimes the typical students present the worse behaviors. Yes, some of the students with emotional disturbances do act out if no para is present in this specials to help the teacher.

01/26/2011 1:19 am

MY son has Aspergers and his Doctors and Therpist have written letters to the school saying he should have small groups. I am totaly confused. I cannot get a straight answer from my son school about placements. I know there is no exact number, by law, for self contained classes, inclusion, co teaching. But where do they draw the line. My son IEP says self contained, small group, modified work.
My son has been in self contained always with less than 10 kids now the school says the class with 17 kids is self contained? One class has 30 kids a regular ed teacher and a special ed teacher. His DR. wrote the school a letter recomending an alternative Gym setting and I was told they do not have a setting for that but they would look into it.
Could you tell me if there is anything written about the ratios in these classes.

Sharon L.
01/23/2011 9:53 pm

Gina – Perhaps a modification to the curriculum will help. For example if there are 50 problems to do will your son learn how to do the problems and get enough practice if he only does 25 of them (every other one)? We did this with my son and it worked well. He learned what he needed to learn and did not become overwhelmed because it took him longer to do the work. He is dyslexic and we had the tutor read the word problems to him. He had the use of a calculator since 5th grade (even though the school did not like that idea). He needed this and still uses it today in college. Perhaps some of these ideas will help.

01/21/2011 3:59 pm

my son is having difficulty with 6 grade math. he has aspergers. he is passing. complaining non stop how tired it makes him, boring and confusing it is. i thought resource room would help him. he has a para which im sure helps him pass by not missing material but what about the frustration and extra energy he exerts to do so…he is falling apart when he gets home and says its math??
they say resource is for kids that fail only and truthfully is it LRE any other suggestions for his emotional, social, behavioral disability and how it affects him learning math. not to mention the comorbid add (main cause im sure)
is resource room the answer and how do i get it for him?

11/16/2017 2:20 pm
Reply to  gina


I know this a few years old but you can get resource room for your son. Request an IEP meeting to discuss your concerns and have Resource room put in to the IEP. This can be the answer also I would look at seeing if math work can be modified in any way as Sharon mentioned. Any modifications and accommodations should be put into his IEP.

12/11/2010 4:05 pm

My 12 yr old daughter has high functioning autism. She had a full time aide in 1st and 2nd grade. After that, she was independent in the classroom. Since she started middle school, the regular education staff pushed for her to have an aide. They’ve made little attempt to modify their curricuulum or environment to serve her needs.

My daughter’s behavior has become so disruptive and her anxiety has skyrocketed. Recently an aide was hired. I was told by a para that the school is thinking about placing my daughter in a self contained CD classroom. She doesn’t have a CD label – her only label is autism. Can her school place her there? That doesn’t sound like the LRE. I would love some feedback.

11/12/2017 11:02 am
Reply to  Megan

I am having a similar issue my son is high functioning autistic and has been in Maine stream class but this year the 2nd grade class do es not have and aid only one teacher with 20 kids. well the same is happening with my son his sensory overload and anxiety sky rocket if they followed the prescribed sensory diet which is 10-15 min brake every1-2hrs outside of the classroom he would do great but the school lacks funds or personnel …and now they want to place him in an EC class which is in a different school and program is completely segregated for Maine streamers from door entrence, recess time and even lunch room hours and this class has a very low academic profile they practice their alphabet by son writes storybooks and is in advance math for his grade.. any advice ??

Sharon L.
11/07/2010 8:52 pm

Beth – Definately you need to address it. In situations like this I contacted the school and asked to come in and observe the class. This way you can see what is going on and what you think about it. If you child is unhappy and you don’t like what you see you can reconvene an IEP meeting to discuss other options.

11/06/2010 9:58 pm

My daughter has 60 pullout minutes for SPEd services, but due to her schools academic leveled grouping for reading and math, she is sent to a theraputic self contained classroom for over 3 hours of her school day to work with 2 Sped teachers and their paras. Is this legal?? They say I should not complain because she us getting more specialized help, but I am very concerned about the role modeling and her self image of needing to go to be in the special class for kids who cannot behave. She has no behavioral issues- now…

Sp teacher
02/18/2016 9:02 pm
Reply to  Beth

Students with learning disabilities shouldn’t be pulled into a self-contained ED rooms when they don’t have the ED identification. I would suggest getting an educational advocate and request to hold another IEP meeting.

10/26/2010 12:29 pm

My daughter is in a resource room and I had to fight to keep her there. The school pushed hard for her to be in a regular classroom. She wasn’t able to learn and her anxiety went through the roof (outbursts, tears, tearing off toenails, biting herself).

This website and the people on it helped me successfully fight to keep her in a smaller and calmer environment where she is happy and excelling at her own pace. I think this site is a great one and always recommend it as a good resource for parents.

10/25/2010 7:31 pm

Resource Rooms are actually quite beneficial to students with many types fo disabilities. Not all, but many with LD. This website seems to sensationalize issues rather than provide much-needed information to parents. Resource rooms provide the “individualized” instruction you mention in the IEP. How is this possible in the class of 30+???? Stop generalizing, and pushing your axe grinding agenda…

11/08/2016 1:48 pm
Reply to  Bill

I so agree with you. Resource rooms have done wonders for my little girl. She is extremely bright, loving but also super hyper and cannot sit still for more than seconds. She is easily distracted and moves from one activity to the next within seconds. The smaller group setting and the one-on-one attention has been a great benefit. The room is quiet, the learning is more structured, and my daughter gets the supervision and attention she needs. I say don’t knock it if it works for students.

10/14/2010 12:51 pm

To Carol…I had the same problem with recess. You let them know it is absolutely NOT ok for your child to miss recess they will have to find another time. Children have few play/exercise times scheduled in the school day, your child needs this break and release of energy. This also feels like more of a punishment to your child. What are they thinking?

10/14/2010 12:48 pm

to Nicole My son is in doing fabulous in our Magnet school and has an IEP. Do NOT allow them to exclude your child!

K McMullen
10/14/2010 12:03 am

Regarding a foster child with Aspergers Syndrome. Child has and IEP Child makes A’s and B’s Aspergers children have severe social/emotional deficiencies. In the IEP meetings the school staff decides as to how the childs educational needs will be met; however, the school NEVER follows through. The IEP, in this case, is a collosal waste of everyone’s time. Is there recourse available to require/enforce what was set up in the IEP? I am new to all this and admit to being clueless. Are there laws which govern … for the state of KS and how can I get advise. I am not opposed to hiring an attorney to help but how do I find the professional necessary and what happened to “no child left behind”? The school staff tells me, for example A,B & C.. then I explain to the child. Then when I am not @ the school the staff chanages everything

11/16/2017 2:24 pm
Reply to  K McMullen

I know this a few years old. I would request for an IEP meeting immediately to get to the bottom of why they are not implementing the IEP. That is a federal violation of the law. If that does not work file a state complaint. That should get the school moving.

Sharon L.
10/13/2010 5:43 pm

K Hopkins – My suggestion is to reconvene the IEP meeting and find out what is going on. If your child is supposed to be in regular education classes with his grade level they need to do so.

10/13/2010 12:05 pm

Martha, this is confusing to me. The school told me that this benchmark is a practice for the TAKS test the students take in April. The school also told me that if a student doesn’t pass this test then they can not be promoted to the next grade. This is why I am so stressed out about this. What can I do??

10/13/2010 10:19 am

To Shelby, whose child did not perform well on the benchmark test, but otherwise earns good grades…This is the crux of the problem with the No Child Left Behind Act. Students who may be below grade level for reasons of cognitive, emotional, or other reasons, make progress at their instructional level. If a 5th grader is making progress in reading, even though his reading level is closer to 3rd grade…he is learning, and showing progress (daily work, classroom tests). That same child takes the State-wide assessment tests (in NH = NECAP) at the grade level he is in – not his instructional level. If its a reading test, there is no accommodation to have test read to him. The problem is NCLB does not require that states test student progress, it requires them to test how far away from the average, a student is.

10/12/2010 10:00 pm

Yes, but read that law again as it states “parents are MEMBERS of the team” present but not heard; they always seem to have a better way. their way of handling situations rather than my input or how I would like a situation handled.

What are my rights here? I do not want my 5th grader to miss recess because his teacher thought it was the best time for him to download his work done on his Alpha Smart he desperately needs. I was told this remark by his teacher: “I’ll consider it.”

I have to wonder–is it IEP? Individual Education Plan?? or is it TEP? Teacher Education Plan??

10/12/2010 2:32 pm

What if the school flat refuses to acknowledge your child’s disability? There is no one to support you and make the school do what is not only right but is the law.

10/12/2010 12:01 pm

My son is in the 3rd grade and he has a 504 plan. He recently took a benchmark test which is a “practice” test for the TAKS he will have to take in April. On the benchmark he got a 40 something in reading and a 50 something on math. The school told me that the reason he did so poorly was because he couldn’t have accommodations on the reading portion. He made all A’s and B’s on daily work/tests so why is it that he did so poorly. My question is what are they doing to “help” him get such good daily work/test grades? Now they want him to come to morning computer tutoring and he is already getting tutoring 4 days a week plus going to content mastery to complete almost all of his daily work/tests and they want him to bring home extra “practice” work to complete at home. Any advice would be helpful. Thanks!

10/12/2010 9:59 am

My 7 year old daughter has mild to moderate Down Syndrome. She has had an IEP that wants her to replace “no” with a compliant behavior. Her behavior has gotten worse, and that regression shows on her progress reports. I have told them that we do not have this behavior issue in other daycare, camp,etc environments – just at school. She is in Lifeskills and is imitating the behavior of others in the room, however they won’t give us information on the classroom environment and said that a BIP was not needed. So we have formally requested a FBA with the school. But two weeks ago, she came biting herself on her wrist and we are concerned with this new behavior she has learned in this classroom. The teacher says their answer is to ignore the behavior. We know her placement is wrong, what can we do?

10/12/2010 9:00 am

Our School District kept our son on the 1st grade level for 4 yrs and the 2nd grade level for 5 yrs not allowing him to progress at all academically using the same IEP goals since 1st grade. In 9th grade after the School failed to provide our son with a FAPE we filed a DPH and Prevailed. Our son was moved to another School District as a 10th grader and lives in a Developmental Center to continue his education. The School immediately evaluated him and found he was on a 3rd grade level and he progressed very well with no regression. This year he is on a 3-4th grade level and has strong Math and Science Skills. Our son is due to return to our home District for his Senior year. This shows what a poor quality of education some School Districts provide and their Special Ed students education isn’t important.

K Hopkins
10/12/2010 8:57 am

My son is in 5th grade. He has been placed in what is being called an EC cluster class. There are 8 other 5th graders and the rest are 4th graders( 21 students in all) From my past experience of working at this school it appears to me the entire class is made up of children with some type of learning disability. My Son is with these children for the entire day. His specials, Music, Art, and Spanish are with 4th graders. He has not been retained. He was promoted to 5th grade but he has no interaction with his 5th grade peers except for a gym class once a week. His IEP has no restrictions for these special activities and his placement is written as “Regular” on his IEP. Is’nt he suppose to be with his regular education 5th grade peers for 80% of the day? That is what his IEP says. What is the definitionof “peers”?

11/16/2017 2:26 pm
Reply to  K Hopkins

Peers are the other students that are in the same grade level as your child. They may have different classrooms.

Sharon L.
06/14/2010 3:39 pm

Maria – Anytime the school will not do something you request that is in your child’s best interests they MUST put down why they will not consider your request in a document called a Prior Written Notice. This way you will have something you can discuss with an advocate or attorney. They cannot just say they are not going to do something without explaining why.

06/13/2010 10:40 pm

My husband and I have advocated for our child this year to no end to have the school mainstream her so she can benefit and continue growing social and verbally by interacting with her peers, the school responds by telling us that ” She is growing socially and verbally with ” the group of girls she is with daily from the resource room” they don’t listen to our concerns.

Sharon L.
05/29/2010 10:59 am

Carolina – When we have been in a situation where the school refuses to do what is in the IEP than they have to send you a prior written notice explaining why they are not following the IEP. If they say they are following the IEP you have a right to see the evidence of progress. In the IEP there is a section stating how the team will provide evidence of progress. I would schedule an IEP meeting and request for this evidence. Discuss the issues and try to resolve the issues. My son was also depressed and not very good socially. We put in the IEP a time of day that his speech would go over social skills as part of his IEP. The IEP is supposed to address any individual needs the student has.

05/26/2010 9:31 am

My son has ADHD and maybe Autism. The school did not follow his IEP, also they ignored my son most of the time. He gets depressed and refusing to go the school. The psychologist in charge, never gave my son any individual therapy. He did not receive any direct support in the class room. They punish him. When I complained, the principal was rude with us and all IEP team ignored me. I when to the District Coordinator and she did the same thing. I paid an independent advocate to find out this, she gave me the same result as I already have. Please help me! My son has a delay in the social/emotional area, because they separated him from other kids. He’s self-esteem has been damaged, saying “Mom, I’m a Bad boy” No body wants to be my friend” Please, someone who can help!!

05/13/2010 5:11 pm

Nicole, that room is the very opposite of “inclusion.” Inclusion refers to attending with non-disabled peers.

05/12/2010 12:13 pm

At our school, they have a one classroom in kindergarten labeled the “inclusion room”. All students with IEP’s MUST attend that classroom. Honestly, I’d rather they pull him out for 30 minutes in a resource room than place him on the lowest tier, with the kids who are behind (he is reading at the 2nd-3rd grade level!), which is what inclusion IS in practice in this district. I’d imagine it’s the same in much of the world.

On a side note, does anyone know if it is legal to deny entrance to a magnet school because a child has an IEP (assuming that child is at a mainstream/inclusion level?).

05/08/2010 12:27 am

Martha– (about grouping)
Sounds to me like that teacher has shot him/herself in the foot. The positive effects of peer tutoring are well documented. I have seen this myself; students will often use different language or analogies to explain things to their peers, sometimes better than the teachers. My colleagues (classroom teachers) have said as much. Kids can learn from each other.

05/07/2010 3:51 pm

Elizabeth, excellent point that LRE is an individual decision based on the child’s needs and services not their special education eligibility category.

Elena, your options for disagreement should be clearly stated in your state’s procedural safeguards, which your district must provide or offer you on initial request for evaluation. The presence of a neurological disorder does not entail special education eligibility if there is no adverse educational effect. I would recommend you request an IEP review meeting to discuss placement or services, if you are not in agreement with the team I would recommend you pursue mediation or due process procedures outlined in your state’s safeguards. It may beneficial to notify the school and bring an advocate to the meeting before pursuing due process.

05/07/2010 12:45 am

What as parents can we do to stop this from being done especially when you have to fight to even get your child eligible for Special Ed and they tell you that you have to put your son in there anyway? The teacher is not a special ed teacher and all they are working on is behaviors that your child is not even capable of understanding due to a neurological disorder. These schools need to be closed down!

05/05/2010 9:00 pm

Melissa, if the resource teacher is your schools special needs teacher then yes s/he has to be there. and carol I agree with you completely. mainstreaming is not for every child but it should be an option open for discussion every IEP meeting.

I am a preschool special needs teacher and i have worked in a self-contained three year old class in NC and an all inclusive setting in AZ. I have seen the pros and cons of both settings and believe that as educators we do need to look at each child individually and place them accordingly and not based on their special identification.

05/05/2010 11:59 am

Just wanted to say that not all kids who qualify for special ed should be mainstreamed. My daughter was mainstreamed until high school. She now attends a private special ed high school at public school expense. For her, that was the right move. She is not only graduating next month but has friends and a tremendous amount of positive feelings for her future.
I do not think that a regular room will benefit all special ed students.

05/05/2010 11:39 am

Does Resource have to be a part of the IEP team or IEP when a child is fully mainstreamed in a regular education class and does not utilize Resource Services?

05/05/2010 11:21 am

We just had a similar discussion at my son’s IEP. We were trying to calculate the hours per day of “special education” my son would need. The LEA was trying to tell me that those hours are “the time he spends away from typical peers” (which was 5.5 h/ day) My point was that when he is mainstreamed for the other hour and a half of the day, he needs MORE special education. Very confusing.

05/05/2010 11:10 am

My daughter has an A in her humanities class and was placed in a one of three groups- her group is made up of the chidren with IEP’s (she has an IEP and an A) and the children in the class who make C’s and D’s. The other groups are children who make A’s and the children who make B’s. The are to do a group project. Her group has been removed from the class for instruction, and was read to directly (“choral reading”) in front of the class. I say this is both a violation of LRE, more restricitive than her IEP (she has no reading problem and the modification to be in small group for tests was just lifted) and she has an A, so it is discriminatory for her to be placed with children who make c’s and d’s just because she has an IEP. Am I right about all of the above? I seem to have the support of our special ed director on this-a surprise.

05/05/2010 10:49 am

Unfortunately without sending all teachers back to school for ADD and special ed training there is only the school across town and separate classes I was told. There aren’t enough teachers to provide him education he deserved in his own school. It was that or get sent to the principal everyday in a regular classroom. In Davenport, IA for the program designed just for kids who need smaller class sizes. However the point system for rewarding good behavior and bad still is ridiculous based on a child’s needs for being kept on track to stay in class and focused on the tasks in a classroom of 6 kids to a teacher! This program needs mandatory help!!! Especially in IA schools.

05/03/2010 3:13 pm

My son’s school is putting him in the hallway with a para to do general ed work, but not counting that in LRE. Are they right in not calculating it as in room class time?

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