For nearly 40 years, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) has helped to ensure that children with special needs and children with learning disabilities receive the educational opportunities that they are entitled to. IDEA is a complex and nuanced law. Among its many provisions is the assertion that children with special needs must be given access to a continuum of placement options.
What does this mean? Practically, it means that school districts are obligated to give children access to educational opportunities in mainstream and standardized learning environments alongside their peers. This standard is to be upheld save for those situations in which a child’s disability is so severe or specialized that his or her educational needs cannot be adequately met in this least restrictive educational environment.
In essence, because the needs of each child will differ depending on the nature of his or her disability, a local district may or may not be able to educate that child in a mainstream way in accordance with the continuum of placement options mandate. However, many districts do have the ability to satisfactorily educate children with special needs in less restrictive environments.
Every special needs child’s circumstances are unique. As a result, if you believe that your child is not being given access to adequate resources or opportunities based on his or her unique circumstances, do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney experienced in matters of special education. He or she may be able to help you navigate various legal options relevant to your situation.
Source: RaisingandEducatingDeafChildren.org, “Importance and Need for the Continuum of Educational Placements,” Barbara Raimondo, April 1, 2014