Least Restrictive Environment [LRE] Law and Legal Definition

Pursuant to the U.S. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, the least restrictive environment [LRE] is a principle that governs the education of students with disabilities and other special needs. Generally, schools are required to provide a free appropriate public education in the LRE that is appropriate to the individual student's needs.

LRE means that a student who has a disability should have the opportunity to be educated with non-disabled peers, to the greatest extent appropriate. They should have access to the general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, or any other program that non-disabled peers would be able to access. The student should be provided with supplementary aids and services necessary to achieve educational goals if placed in a setting with non-disabled peers. Academically, a resource room may be available within the school for specialized instruction, with typically no more than two hours per day of services for a student with learning disabilities. If the nature or severity of his/her disability prevents the student from achieving these goals in a regular education setting, then the student would be placed in a more restrictive environment, such as a special school or a hospital program. Generally, the less opportunity a student has to interact and learn with non-disabled peers, the more the placement is considered to be restricted.