Get access

An analysis of legal issues relating to the least restrictive environment standards


Turki Abdullah Alquraini, College of Education, Special Education Department, King Saud University, B.O. Box 2458, Riyadh Zip Code 11451, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Email:


The lack of clear language in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), which is the federal law that governs the provision of special education and related services to children with disabilities in the USA, has led to inconsistencies in school districts' decisions regarding the least restrictive environment (LRE). This uncertainty in determining an appropriate LRE has become a significant obstacle to educating students with disabilities. Therefore, this paper examines a number of court cases that have challenged school districts to provide the LRE for students with disabilities and have handed down decisions that define specific standards that are useful for school teams to implement the mandate of the LRE. Through the synthesis of these cases, the author provides criteria for determining the LRE for students with disabilities that could enhance inclusive education for these students. Finally, the author suggests that legislators should reconsider the language of LRE, make it more specific regarding the determination of LRE, and apply the standards defined in these cases and others to state a clear formula for developing LRE that could be utilised in school districts throughout the country.