Determining a child’s placement in the LRE, Least Restrictive Environment, must be done: *each and every year, *basing the placement on the child’s IEP, *making the placement as close as possible to the child’s home, *and placing the child in the school he or she would normally attend if she or he didn’t have a disability (unless, as IDEA states, the child’s IEP requires some other arrangement).
These requirements fit within the frame of IDEA’s “strong preference, not a mandate, for educating children with disabilities in regular classes alongside their peers without disabilities” (71 Fed. Reg. 46585). Special education and related services under IDEA are tightly connected to principles of individualization and are designed to respond appropriately to the needs of each specific child. Those needs drive the IEP that’s developed for the child–which, in turn, drives the placement decision.