The third and final step in the IEP process is determining the appropriate placement. The type of placement should be discussed immediately after an IEP is developed. The IEP forms the basis for the placement decision. The placement decision must be based on a careful reflection of the IEP, including the services that the Team has identified as necessary, and the impact of the disability on the student’s learning. Finally, the Team must be mindful of the requirement related to FAPE (free appropriate public education) in the LRE (least restrictive environment). Only after the needs of the child and the types of services have been discussed by the Team and agreed to in an IEP can the type of placement be effectively chosen by the Team.
The first type of placement option considered for all eligible students will be the general education classroom with the use of supplemental aids and services. Students may not be denied education in age-appropriate general education classrooms because the students’ education requires modification to the general curriculum. Other options should be considered only when the nature and severity of the disability would prevent satisfactory achievement within the general education environment.
The IEP, under no circumstances, should be written, “to fit” a particular placement. Teams must remember this critical fact when moving through the Team process to ensure that the IEP is written to address the unique needs of the student.