Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Siblings and the Least Restrictive Environment

The least restrictive environment requirements of IDEA  provide for students to attend their home school, or school of residence, whenever possible. When not possible, districts are guided to place students as close to home as possible in order to maintain social networks within the community for the family and the student. 

Recently, I came across an issue related to least restrictive environment that is not covered in the Ed Codes. My child with special needs is placed in a school across town. We love the placement and don't mind the extra travel time; it is so worth it! We asked for our child's two younger sisters to be transferred into the same school so they could, like typical siblings, all attend together. 

The results for our kids have been great! They play together at lunch and recess, share friends, and my typically developing child has friends who, while they do not have siblings with special needs themselves, know us, my younger child's sibling and are better able to understand my children when they share the joys, frustrations and even fears of living with a sibling with a progressive disease. 

Unfortunately, the district can move our other two children back to their home school, where they have no friends and have no history or experience. I think the district should treat the school of placement as the home school, and allow siblings of students with special needs to stay together if the family chooses. 

What do you think? Let us know and we will share your ideas with the board!

Gina Hale
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