Least Restrictive Environment

Goldfish jumping from one bowl to another
What the Law has to say about the Least Restrictive Environment:

Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) is the requirement of federal law that students with disabilities receive their education, to the maximum extent appropriate, with nondisabled peers.

Special education students are not removed from regular classes unless, even with supplemental aids and services, education in regular classes cannot be achieved satisfactorily.


What Research has to say about Inclusion:

  • There is a multitude of research that has been accumulated over 3 decades showing that, when children with disabilities are included in general education settings, they are more likely to exhibit positive social and emotional behaviors at a level that is much greater than their peers who are put in programs that serve only children with disabilities. (Holahan & Costenbader, 2000; Strain, Bovey, Wilson, & Royal, 2009)
  • Research also shows that high-quality inclusion can help children make gains that are not only visible during preschool, but also realized much later in life. When children with disabilities have sustained interaction in inclusive classrooms, they are given opportunities to observe, develop, expand and generalize their social skills. (Strain, McGee, & Kohler, 2001, p. 357) Plus, inclusion can provide models from whom children with disabilities can learn appropriate social and emotional behaviors. (Guralnick, 2001; Odom et al., 2002)
  • Alternately, when children with disabilities are separated from their peers, and excluded from the early childhood classroom, they are unable to observe appropriate social behaviors and are therefore less likely to achieve the fundamental social milestones that are linked to later success in school and life. (Bailey et al., 1998; Holahan & Costenbader, 2000; Peters, 2004)


What the U.S. Secretary of Education believes about preschool and early education:

  • U.S. Secretary of Education, John King, believes high-quality preschool is a critical means of expanding educational equity and opportunity by giving every child a strong start.
  • King points to numerous studies that show that attending high-quality early education can result in children building a solid foundation for achieving the academic, health and social outcomes that are of benefit to individual families and to the country as a whole.
  • King claims the data shows children who attend these programs are more likely to do well in school, find good jobs and succeed in their careers than those who do not.
  • King goes on to highlight improvements in a number of participating States, but also uses this data to call for greater investment in early education. Specifically, the fact sheet points to the President’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2017, which included expanding high-quality early learning programs through two key programs:
  • $75 billion over 10 years for the Preschool for All proposal, to provide universal high-quality preschool programs for all 4-year-olds from low- and moderate-income families.
  • $350 million for Preschool Development Grants, an increase of $100 million over the FY 2016 funding level, to help States lay the foundation for universal public preschool.

Federal Update: August 5, 2016  http://www.cde.ca.gov/sp/se/as/stateadminlst16.asp
© Brustein & Manasevit, PLLC 2016
Michael Brustein, Julia Martin, Steven Spillan, Kelly Christiansen


Least Restrictive Environment Options from least restrictive to more restrictive:Rainbow colored kite

General Education Classroom

  • The general education classroom, using the core curriculum, may be appropriate for some children with support, if needed. Students can participate in all or some of the general education classroom with accommodation or modifications as determined by the IEP. Full Inclusion is the total integration of a student with special needs into the general education classroom, with support, if needed. The teacher of record remains the special education teacher, or specialist.
  • If the IEP team feels that a student’s behavior is negatively affecting his or her academic progress or that of others, the use of positive behavioral interventions and supports can be considered to address the behaviors. As well as DIS: Counseling, Behavioral services of an NPA BII/BID, or a combination of one or more of the above.

B.I.G. Solutions can provide BII and BID school services in the General Education Classroom.


Resource Specialist Program (RSP)

  • The Resource Specialist Program is for students who require Special Education services for less than half of their school day.
  • Resource Specialist students may be assisted within their general education classes or in a “pull-out” model. Instruction is designed to support a student’s participation in the general education class and with the core curriculum.


Special Day Class (SDC)

  • Special day classes are for students who require individualized and small group instruction for the majority of their school day.
  • Instruction can include goals and objectives in basic skills, general education curriculum, vocational skills, social skills, behavior and self-esteem.
  • While most SDC classes are designed to serve students with mild to moderate disabilities, there are some classes that may be designated as intensive services (IS) or emotionally disturbed (ED).
  • Behavioral services of an NPA BII/BID, if needed, can be provided in a special day class placement.

 B.I.G. Solutions can provide BII and BID school services in the Special Day Classroom.



  • Students with special needs who are in a Special Day Class placement are educated in regular general education classes during specific time periods based on their skills.

 B.I.G. Solutions can provide BII and BID school services in various classrooms for mainstreaming.


Preschool Services

  • The school district is responsible for the full implementation of services for eligible children with exceptional needs ages 3 to 5.
  • All preschools are integrated and for a significant part of their day children with disabilities are educated together with students without disabilities.
  • Behavioral services of an NPA BII/BID, if needed, can be provided in a special day class placement.

 B.I.G. Solutions can provide BII and BID school services in preschool settings.


Non-Public Schools (NPS)

  • Non-public schools provide special education services for students who require more intensive services than can be offered in a public school setting.
  • *Non-Public Schools do not allow for NPA BII/BID


Residential Programs

  • Residential programs are state supported through the Department of Mental Health for students whose needs cannot be met in a public school, or non-public school setting.
  • *Residential Programs do not allow for NPA BII/BID


Home or Hospital Instruction

  • Home or hospital instruction is provided for students with verified medical or emotional conditions that prevent them from attending school. Services are usually provided on a temporary basis.