All students with disabilities have the right to an education in the LRE based on their individual educational needs rather than the label describing their disability. Just because a child is labeled as a child with an “intellectual disability” or “emotional disturbance” does not mean that contact with nondisabled students would be inappropriate.
According to the Holland case, a district must take all reasonable steps (including provision of supplemental aids and services) to reduce the burden to the regular education teacher and the other children in the class before removing a student with a disability from the regular education classroom. Federal law now requires that each IEP contain a statement of the program modifications or supports that school personnel will need so a student can be involved and progress in the general curriculum, can participate in extracurricular and nonacademic activities and be educated with nondisabled students. [20 U.S.C. Sec. 1414(d)(1)(A)(i)(IV); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.320(a)(4).] The court in Holland said that merely requiring more attention than most children is not likely to impair the other children’s education. [Holland, 786 F. Supp. at 879.]
The law does recognize that the nature or severity of a student’s disability may justify removal of a student from the regular class, particularly when the student disrupts other students. However, total removal from the regular education environment may not be warranted. The district should still provide opportunities for interaction with nondisabled peers in extra-curricular or nonacademic settings when appropriate. [34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.117.]