The IDEA, Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, is legislation specifically designed to provide for education and related services for disabled children.  The IDEA mandates that children with disabilities be education in the least restrictive environment, or LRE Mandate.  This can range from mainstreaming in general education or special education classes on a comprehensive campus, to a private day school strictly for children with disabilities.

How Does LRE Apply?

The IDEA requires that all children who qualify for its protections be placed in an educational situation that is beneficial to them, does not limit them, and allows them to interact with their general education peers to the extent practicable.  The Individualized Education Program, IEP, is a personalized education plan developed specifically for each disabled individual by a team of education professionals and the student’s parents.  The IEP team is comprised of specific categories of people set forth in the IDEA, such as a special education teacher, a representative of the educational agency, and the parents or guardians of the student.


While mainstreaming is not the best solution for everyone, it is possible for some disabled children to thrive in the general education environment with appropriate supports and services. In order for mainstreaming to be successful, the IEP must be properly developed and continually reviewed to ensure that the child is continuing to succeed. However, in some instances, disabled children may not receive a satisfactory education in a standard classroom.

LRE Compliance

Schools can get into trouble when the child is not placed according to LRE. Non-compliance could result in a lawsuit. When mainstreaming is determined by the IEP team to not be the appropriate placement for a student with disabilities,  this must be properly documented in the IEP.   There are a multitude of other options, such as creating a hybrid program where the student attends some part of the day with his/her general education peers and others in a special education environment.   If there are questions on the proper placement for a special education student, an education attorney can assist schools in the process.

Resolving Problems

Many issues regarding LRE compliance, and other matters that pertain to disabled students, can be successfully resolved before they become lawsuits. Educators must take preemptive action by holding meetings with the parents to explain the child’s educational plan. These meetings are required by the IDEA, and in some instances additional meetings may be warranted. When problems do occur, an attorney is often able to help you gather the necessary documentation, test scores, and evaluations that were utilized in making the placement decisions.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice. If you need legal advice regarding LRE Mandate, or any Education Law matter, please feel free to contact 480.461.5300, log on to,  or contact an attorney in your area. Udall Shumway PLC is located in Mesa, Arizona and is a full service law firm. We assist Individuals, families, businesses, schools and municipalities in Mesa and the Phoenix/East Valley.