FAQ: One-on-one assistants and LRE for students with disabilities

questions-and-answersFAQ:  Is having a one-on-one assistant the “most restrictive” setting for a student with a disability?

Answer:  No. The type of support that a student requires has nothing to do with the degree to which her educational placement is considered to be “restrictive” under IDEA, the Federal special education law.

IDEA requires that students with disabilities are served in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) where their needs can be successfully met.  The continuum of alternative educational placements that goes from least restrictive to most restrictive is based on the amount of time that the student is removed from the regular education setting and  non-disabled peers.  The continuum includes the following placement options: Regular, Resource, Separate, Separate School, Residential, Home/Hospital.  Each step along the continuum reflects less and less contact with typical children, and would be considered to be more restrictive than the ones listed before it and less restrictive than the ones listed after it.

Children can receive special education services in the regular education classroom, in a special education classroom or therapy room, or in the total school environment.  Some students receive a lot of special education services, accommodations and supports in the regular education setting and are not removed from their non-disabled peers at all.  This would still be considered to be the least restrictive placement on the continuum.

Some parents who ask about  a one-on-one assistant for their child are told that this kind of individual support would be the most restrictive setting for their child, and that moving the child into a separate classroom or separate school would actually be less restrictive.  This is simply not true, and probably reflects a lack of information on the part of the person making that statement.

If this happens to you, talk to someone who would be expected to have a greater understanding of  special education rules and regulations.  Even if you have to speak with the Director of Exceptional Children’s services for your entire school system, it will be good for them to know that there is a need to correct misinformation.  This may not get a one-on-one assistant for your child, but at least the decision would not be made for the wrong reason.  The IEP team has an obligation to consider the use of supplementary aids and services that could increase the amount of time that a child with a disability would be able to be educated with non-disabled children.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Education, Parent Education, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I wish I’d had this information a year ago in my son’s IEP review. This was exactly what I was trying to argue in a room of 15+ participants to the IEP team (yes, it got that bad), and they wanted to argue that it was less restrictive to be in a self-contained classroom with only disabled peers than to be in a regular education classroom with a one-on-one. We even had either the EC director or the next person below her. I can’t recall if the EC director was still in the room at the time. They all argued with my husband and me, and I knew that didn’t make sense. How do I get this information in writing to take next time they disagree, since they clearly don’t understand this?

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