Before a Change

Before a change is made to a student’s placement regarding the least restrictive environment (LRE), several steps and considerations must typically be addressed to ensure that the change is appropriate and in the best interest of the student. Here are the key factors and processes that generally precede a change in LRE:

1. Comprehensive Assessment and Evaluation:

  1. Review of Current Placement: The student’s current placement and educational program, including the effectiveness of existing accommodations, modifications, and supports, are reviewed to determine whether they adequately meet the student’s needs and promote progress.
  2. Comprehensive Evaluation: A comprehensive assessment and evaluation of the student’s strengths, needs, abilities, disabilities, and progress are conducted to inform decision-making regarding the appropriateness of the current placement and the potential need for a change in LRE.

2. Data Collection and Analysis:

  1. Collection of Objective Data: Objective data, including academic assessments, progress monitoring data, behavioral observations, and input from relevant professionals and stakeholders, are collected and analyzed to provide a clear understanding of the student’s current educational performance and needs.
  2. Review of Progress and Outcomes: The student’s progress and outcomes in their current placement are reviewed to determine whether the placement is effectively supporting the student’s academic, social, emotional, and behavioral development.

3. Consideration of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Factors:

  1. Individualized Needs: The student’s individualized needs, including their academic, social, emotional, and behavioral needs, are carefully considered to determine the most appropriate placement option that promotes access to the general education curriculum and maximizes opportunities for inclusion and participation.
  2. Educational Benefit: The potential impact of a change in placement on the student’s educational benefit and progress is evaluated to ensure that the new placement aligns with the student’s educational goals and promotes meaningful learning experiences.

4. Collaboration and Decision-Making:

  1. IEP or Section 504 Team Collaboration: The student’s IEP or Section 504 team, which typically includes parents, educators, special education professionals, related service providers, and sometimes the student (if appropriate), collaborates to review assessment data, discuss placement options, and make informed decisions regarding the student’s LRE.
  2. Parent Involvement: Parents play a crucial role in the decision-making process, providing input, expressing preferences, and collaborating with the educational team to determine the most appropriate placement option for their child.

5. Legal Considerations and Compliance:

  1. IDEA and Section 504 Compliance: Any change in placement must comply with the requirements of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, including the provision of a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment appropriate to the student’s needs.
  2. Procedural Safeguards: Procedural safeguards outlined in IDEA and Section 504, including parental notification, consent, and the opportunity for due process hearings, must be followed to ensure that the rights of the student and their parents are protected throughout the placement change process.

6. Documentation and Planning:

  1. Documentation of Decision-Making: The rationale for the proposed change in placement, including consideration of assessment data, LRE factors, parent input, and legal requirements, should be documented in the student’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) or Section 504 plan.
  2. Development of Transition Plan: A transition plan outlining the steps and supports needed to facilitate the student’s transition to the new placement is developed to ensure a smooth and successful transition process.

By following these steps and considerations, educational teams can make informed decisions regarding changes in placement regarding the least restrictive environment (LRE) that are in the best interest of the student and promote their educational progress and success.