In this section we will cover the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) regarding the concept of Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) under Title 34 of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We will take excerpts from several sections of Title 34, while interpreting and simplifying them for you. [Note: the symbol “§” stands for “section”, and “§§” stands for “sections.”]
§ 300.114 LRE requirements.
(a) General. (1) Except as provided in § 300.324(d)(2) (regarding children with disabilities in adult prisons), the State must have in effect policies and procedures to ensure that public agencies in the State meet the LRE requirements of this section and §§ 300.115 through 300.120.
(2) Each public agency must ensure that—
(i) To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and
(ii) Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.
(b) Additional requirement—State funding mechanism—(1) General. (i) A State funding mechanism must not result in placements that violate the requirements of paragraph (a) of this section; and
(ii) A State must not use a funding mechanism by which the State distributes funds on the basis of the type of setting in which a child is served that will result in the failure to provide a child with a disability FAPE according to the unique needs of the child, as described in the child’s IEP.
(2) Assurance. If the State does not have policies and procedures to ensure compliance with paragraph (b)(1) of this section, the State must provide the Secretary an assurance that the State will revise the funding mechanism as soon as feasible to ensure that the mechanism does not result in placements that violate that paragraph.
Part (a)(1) states that all publicly-funded schools must meet LRE requirements, except for in cases where a child with a disability is in an adult prison. Part (a)(2) states that LRE means that children with disabilities should be educated alongside nondisabled children whenever possible, and that any instruction that takes place outside the regular classroom must be absolutely necessary for the child to learn. If your child can learn in the regular classroom through the use of a laptop, interpreter, or some other form of assistance, it’s better to use the assistance than remove them from the regular classroom.
Part (b) deals with how the State must fund these kinds of programs — namely, it can’t use methods that would prevent your child from being placed where they should be. Aside from that, there isn’t much information relevant to how your child should be educated.
§ 300.42 Supplementary aids and services.
Supplementary aids and services means aids, services, and other supports that are provided in regular education classes, other education-related settings, and in extracurricular and nonacademic settings, to enable children with disabilities to be educated with nondisabled children to the maximum extent appropriate in accordance with §§ 300.114 through 300.116.
This section provides a clear definition of a supplementary aid or service; essentially, anything that helps your child learn in the regular classroom with nondisabled children and participate in other kinds of activities (such as gym or after-school activities). This includes services like a behavioral program or aid for a child who may have a behavioral problem that prevents them from learning.
Finally, it’s important that we do not confuse supplementary and related services. Supplementary aids and services are specifically services that help keep your child in the regular classroom as much as possible, while related aids and service simply assist with your child accessing their learning — they do not necessarily have to help keep in the child in the regular classroom.