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Least Restrictive Environment

Alexandria Whitmore
College of Southern Nevada


The parents of a disabled tenth grader want their child, named Jonathan, with mental
disabilities, seizure disorder, and spastic quadriplegia to attend a school in a progressive school
district in the South. Because of his disabilities, he requires constant, so the cost of care during
school hours would be quite high. Debbie Young, a principal and former special education
teacher denies the parents request due to the cost and a view that the school would not be the
Least Restrictive Environment.
Young has knowledge that the parents do not, because she has worked within the school
system, and knows what special needs students require. That being said, Young has a few options
to defend her decision. The first is McLaughlin v. Holt Public Schools. In this court case, it was
found that the school that the parents wanted the student to attend was not the Least Restrictive
Environment, because they did not offer the specialized programs that the student required
(Underwood & Webb, 2006). If the schools that Jonathans parents would like him to attend do
not have the programs best suited for his learning needs, then Debbie Young made the right call.
Young could also cite Beth B. v. Clay. In this case, the school switched the student from a
general education classroom to a self-contained classroom due to her severe cognitive disability.
When the parents tried to dispute it, they stated The school officials decision about how to best
educate Beth is based on expertise that we cannot match. (Underwood & Webb, 2006). It could
be said that because of the knowledge that Young has, having worked with special needs
students, she would know the best environment for Jonathan to learn in.
The parents have rights for their son. They want the best education possible for him. They
could say that because Young cited the high cost of care that they are being discriminated
against. They would be able to cite Cedar Rapids Independent School District v. Garrett F. In this
court case, the parents asked the school to pay for nursing services during school hours to their


ventilator-dependent son. It was found that nursing services were a related service covered under
the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (Underwood & Webb, 2006). According to this
case, the parents could argue that the cost didnt matter at all, because the school is legally
supposed to provide nursing services to students who need it in order for the students to learn.
The parents could also bring up Irving Independent School District v. Tatro. In this case,
a student required Clean Intermittent Catheterization services in order to attend class. The courts
ruled that the procedure must be made available during the day because it was necessary in order
to allow the student to remain in the classroom. This relates to Jonathan, because the services he
requires are very necessary for him to remain in a classroom.
I believe that Jonathans case could go either way. If there is proof that the Least
Restrictive Environment is not at any of the schools Jonathan would like to attend, then it is very
likely that the ruling will be favorable for Debbie Young. Although that is the case, it may be
unlikely that an entire school district does not have some sort of special education program that
would be able to accommodate the needs of Jonathan. That is why it is very likely that Jonathan
will be able to attend a school in the district that his parents want. It may not be the specific one
they want, due to program differences, but it will still be in the district.



Underwood, J., & Webb, L. (2006). School law for teachers: Concepts and applications. Upper
Saddle River, N.J.: Pearson/Merrill Prentice Hall.