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Least Restrictive Environment, History of

Public Law No. 94–142 guarantees students with disabilities access to a free appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (LRE), with accommodating supports and services. The requirement of providing education in the LRE has been included in special education law since P.L. 94–142 initially passed in 1975 as the Education for All Handicapped Children Act, yet educators, parents, specialists, and the legal system have interpreted it in a variety of ways. The law, which in 1990 was renamed the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), defines LRE as follows:

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 special classes, separate schooling, or other removal ...

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