Continuum of Alternative Services

Question: Once a determination is made that a disabled student cannot be educated satisfactorily in the regular educational environment, even with the provision of supplementary aids and services, what considerations govern placement?

ANSWER: IDEA does not require that every student with a disability be placed in the regular classroom regardless of individual abilities and needs.This recognition that regular class placement may not be appropriate for every disabled student is reflected in the requirement that school districts make available a range of placement options, known as a continuum of alternative placements, to meet the unique educational needs of students with disabilities. This requirement for the continuum reinforces the importance of the individualized inquiry, not a "one size fits all" approach, in determining what placement is the LRE for each student with a disability. The options on this continuum must include "the alternative placements listed in the definition of special education under § 300.17 (instruction in regular classes, special classes, special schools, home instruction, and instruction in hospitals and institutions). "

34 CFR §300.551 (b) (1).These options must be available to the extent necessary to implement the IEP of each disabled student. The placement team must select the option on the continuum in which it determines that the student's IEP can be implemented. Any alternative placement selected for the student outside of the regular educational environment must maximize opportunities for the student to interact with nondisabled peers, to the extent appropriate to the needs of the student.

It also should be noted that under IDEA, parents must be given written prior notice that meets the requirements of §300.505 a reasonable time before a public agency implements a proposal or refusal to initiate or change the identification, evaluation, or educational placement of the child, or the provision of FAPE to the child. Consistent with this notice requirement, parents of disabled students must be informed that the public agency is required to have a full continuum of placement options, as well as about the placement options that were actually considered and the reasons why those options were rejected. 34 CFR §§300.504-300.505; Notice of Policy Guidance on Deaf Students Education

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