Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Is full inclusion the least restrictive environment?

Image result for wheelchairThis is probably the most difficult response thus far because full inclusion of a disable student in a regular education without regard to the cost and determent of learning for the other students is absurd. I do not harken to the days before the early 1970’s where students with disabilities were vilified, marginalized, and abused. Quite the contrary, I fall upon the jurisprudence that has both rallied the equality of disabled students and supported logical pleas of school districts to find the least restrictive environment. The ultimate goal for every child should be and is a shared goal between schools and parents – full inclusion as the least restrictive environment as deemed appropriate by all stakeholders and sometimes the court.

The inclusion of disable students engaging in shared curriculum with non-disabled students in the LRE is important. Homogenizing students with disabilities can limit growth and development and inadequately prepares these students for the world at large.  However, “it makes no more sense to place every child with a disability in a regular classroom that it did to keep every child with a disability in a special segregated program.” (Stein, 1994, p. 22)

The courts have negotiated the rights of the disabled students with the efforts and capabilities of school districts. One benchmark case finally arrived in the laps of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in 1994.Sacramento City School Dist. V. Rachel H.

Image result for sacramento v rachel hRachel a student of the school district of Sacramento held an IQ of 44 labeled a severe disable student. The district sought to mainstream her instead of providing a full inclusion. The parents thought differently. While in litigation, the parents enrolled Rachel into a full inclusion private school setting where she made significant strides in learning language and other skills from modeling the behavior of the other students in the general education classroom (Daniel, 1997).  The courts sided with Rachel and her parents but not without establishing a four-part balancing test to be applied in discerning which setting is the more educationally appropriate that considered the opportunities for educational benefit of inclusion versus self-containment, the opportunities of the development of non-academic skills, the impact of the disable child within and on the regular classroom, and finally the possible adverse cost of inclusion (Daniel, 1997).

This balanced test is the sensible approach while keeping in sight the goal of full inclusion as a LRE. The courts have defended the rights of the disabled while keeping the interests of the mission of a school.

Dainel, P. (1997). Education students with disabilities in the least restrictive environment A slippery slope for educators. Journal of Educational Administration, 35(5), 397-410. Retrieved fromhttp://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/220457979?accountid=12085
Stein, J. (1994). Total inclusion or least restrictive environment? Journal of Physical Education, recreation & Dance, 65(9), 21 – 25. http://ezproxy.liberty.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.proquest.com/docview/220457979?accountid=12085

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