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Least Restrictive Environment

  • By: Margaret Semrud-Clikeman & Allison Cloth
  • In: Encyclopedia of School Psychology
  • Edited by: Steven W. Lee
  • Subject:School/Educational Psychology (general), School Psychology, Educational Psychology

The Brown v. Board of Education and Pennsylvania Assn. for Retarded Children (PARC) cases helped establish the ideals and foundations of educational equity that led to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (P.L. 91–230) and the least restrictive environment (LRE) principle. The Brown landmark decision held that racial segregation was inherently unequal. Subsequent legal cases (PARC v. Pennsylvania and Mills v. Board of Education, both of 1972) applied the Brown ruling to education and forced the public schools to provide services for children with disabilities. These rulings were then extended to providing services to children in the least restrictive environment and placement in institutions was seen as stigmatizing these children. Thus, children were placed in programs that provided the most interaction with nondisabled peers.

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