How is placement decided in an IEP?

Parent Question
Mar. 9, 2022Updated Mar. 17, 2022

A student’s placement in the least-restrictive environment (LRE) is decided annually by the IEP team before or during the student’s IEP meeting. LRE determination is a team decision that requires input from all members of the student’s IEP team. Because parents or guardians are an integral part of the IEP team, they should always be included in the LRE determination process. When students are in upper elementary school or middle school, they should also have a say in determining their own LRE. Regardless of whether a student has been in the same placement year after year, determining a student’s LRE is a process that must take place annually regardless of the educational placement options available at a given school site.

To determine a student’s LRE, the IEP team discusses the student’s individualized program which consists of goals, instruction, related services, and any supports the student needs to make meaningful progress academically and socially. The first educational placement all IEP teams must consider is the general education classroom.

Even if an inclusion program does not exist at a school site, students receiving special education services have the right to be in the general education classroom if that setting is the student’s LRE. Before considering an alternative placement, the team must consider the services and supports the student would need in the general education setting to be successful. The services and supports considered should allow the student to progress in the general education curriculum and in their annual IEP goals and objectives, and participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities with peers without disabilities.

For more, see our article Placement Options and the Least Restrictive Environment.

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