Case Example: Redesigning a Specialized School
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) compels schools to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment (LRE). However, many school districts lack the capacity or resources to provide intensive special education programs to those students with an ASD who present with severe developmental and/or behavior disorders. Although IDEA emphasizes integration with nondisabled peers, it also recognizes that more restrictive or segregated settings represent the LRE for some students. While a segregated setting may be viewed as more therapeutic and supportive of the student’s educational and behavioral needs (e.g., low teacher-student ratio, intensive clinical supports, more specialized staff), it does not guarantee that the program is implementing evidence-based practices and affecting student achievement.