The essential obligation of special educators under the law known as individuals with disabilities education act (IDEA) is to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to all students identified as having a disability. A secondary and related obligation is to provide a FAPE in the least restrictive environment (LRE). To assist a student's individualized education program (IEP) or placement team to determine the setting in which a student will receive a FAPE, the IDEA mandates that school districts have available a continuum of placements (CAP) in which the team will choose the least restrictive and appropriate setting in which the student will receive their special education and related services. Our purpose in this chapter is to explain these requirements and why following the chronological order of determining FAPE and then LRE when developing a student's special education program is critical to meeting the IDEA's programming and placement mandates. We also explain why determining FAPE in the LRE cannot be accomplished without using the CAP.
Yell, M.L. and Prince, A.T. (2022), "Why the Continuum of Alternative Placements Is Essential", Kauffman, J.M. (Ed.) Revitalizing Special Education, Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 59-78. https://doi.org/10.1108/978-1-80117-494-720221003
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