Mother of disabled student asserts that proposed placement violates the "least restrictive environment" provision of the IDEA because she believes an appropriate educational program can be provided at the comprehensive neighborhood attendance center the student would attend if not disabled.
Mother argues that the law creates a presumption that disabled children with be educated with non-disabled peers, and the challenged placement does not offer the opportunity for the student to be educated with non-disabled peers.
The consensus of student's IEP team (unanimous except Mother) is that the program they could develop at neighborhood attendance center would not meet all of his documented needs. All educational professionals, an educational psychologist and Father believe small group instruction is necessary and that could not be provided at neighborhood attendance center.
Proposed placement offers student the opportunity to receive individual instruction, small group instruction with peers close to student's same functioning level and when ready, larger group instruction with peers functioning both above and below student's level. Proposed placement can also provide student with access to a wide-ranging functional curriculum which educational professionals, evaluators and Father agree will benefit student as the struggle with basic life skills continues.
ALJ acknowledges that Mother is pursuing placement that she truly believes will best serve student. However, ALJ does not agree with her view of student's capabilities and limitations. Complainant has failed to meet burden of proving a violation of the IDEA. Removing a child from the mainstream setting is appropriate when the marginal benefits received from mainstreaming are far outweighed by the benefits gained from services which could not be feasibly provided in a non-segregated setting.
ALJ concludes that proposed placement represents the least restrictive appropriate placement for student. The Respondents prevailed on all issues raised in the complaint.