IDEA 2004 supports inclusive practices by requiring that “to the maximum extent appropriate children with disabilities, including children in public and private institutions or other care facilities, are educate with children who are nondisabled; and that special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of the child is such that education in regular education classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services, cannot be achieved satisfactorily” (IDEA, 2004, 612(a)(5)).
The IEP team makes two separate determinations: what the child should be learning and where a child should learn. The intersection of those two determinations is that particular child's least restrictive environment (LRE). Depending on a particular child's individual needs, per DPI some examples of a possible environment that could be the least restrictive include: a regular education classroom in the neighborhood school with the general education curriculum, with or without supplementary aids and services; a regular education classroom in the neighborhood school with a modified curriculum for some or all of the classes; a pull-out classroom in the neighborhood school with the general curriculum for part of the day with the remainder of the day being spent in the regular classroom or in activities with students who do not have disabilities; a special education classroom in the neighborhood school with modified curriculum; or even a separate alternative school or program. Thus, one child's least restrictive environment may be very different from another child's. The IEP team identifies the LRE for each child based upon the child's individual needs.