Will my child need to go to a special school?

Produced by Massachusetts Law Reform Institute & Justice Center of Southeastern Massachusetts
Created February, 2022

The school’s goal is to teach your child and provide services in the general education classroom with their peers as much as possible.  This is the “least restrictive environment” (“LRE.”) 

Your child has the right to stay, as much as possible, in a classroom with their peers who do not have disabilities.  Your child should stay in the general education classroom if the school can meet your child’s needs with extra supports and services. The school should only move your child out of the classroom if the school cannot  meet your child’s needs in the classroom.  Your child should spend as little time as possible outside of the general education classroom. 

The physical space where your child learns is their “placement.”  Some examples of placement are:

  • Full inclusion: Your child spends at least 80% of their time in the general education classroom.
  • Partial inclusion: Your child spends 40% to 79% of the time in the general education classroom.  21%-60% of their time your child  is taught in a smaller, separate classroom with other students with disabilities.
  • Substantially separate: Your child spends less than 40% of the time in a general education classroom.   Most of the time your child is taught in a smaller, separate classroom with other students with disabilities.
  • Separate Day School: Your child goes to a different school that only serves students with disabilities.
  • Residential school:  Your child lives at a school where they get special education around the clock.

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