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More text language?  No, these are acronyms that every parent of a child will become very familiar with, if not already so.  These are the two terms that are foundational to the education of every special ed student. As a parent and being introduced to the world of special education, it can be a daunting task, and overwhelming to learn about this new world of education.  But to any new parent, don't worry, it comes in bits and pieces, so you are not required to learn it all at one time!

However, some general definitions and tips on implementing these two critical components of special ed law are as follows:

LRE stands for the least restrictive environment.  Which means a student with a disability by law needs to be in a classroom where they can receive appropriate and effective instruction where the student has the most exposure to general education students, general education teachers, and the general education setting.  The opposite of this would be that a student is in an isolated, separate location, only for students with disabilities with a special education teacher and other special ed students.  For our daughter, we have followed a process all throughout her education; the 3 R's, writing, reading and "arithmetic" have always been taught in a special education classroom, as these are foundational skills on which all other skills are learned.  The remaining subjects have been in a general education classroom, as much as we have deemed appropriate for her.  For example; she loves science, so she remained in the class when the units were taught on the human body, but when the unit on atoms was taught, she skipped that unit as it would have no meaning for her.  Below is the section of special ed law that addresses LRE.

281—41.114(256B,34CFR300) Least restrictive environment (LRE).

41.114(1) General. Except as provided in 41.324(4)“a” regarding children with disabilities in adult
prisons, each public agency in the state shall have policies and procedures in place to meet the LRE
requirements of this rule and rules 281—41.115(256B,34CFR300) to 281—41.120(256B,34CFR300).
41.114(2) Public agency assurances. Each public agency must ensure and maintain adequate
documentation that:
a. To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or
private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are nondisabled; and
b. Special classes, separate schooling, or other removal of children with disabilities from the
general education environment occurs only if the nature or severity of the disability is such that education
in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily

FAPE is a difficult one to determine.  It is not nearly as clearly defined.  "Appropriate" may mean one thing to one person and something completely different to another.  As demonstrated by a lengthy ongoing decision regarding math curriculum for my daughter.  I did not want 7 & 8th grade math being used as the curriculum when she was functioning at a 2nd grade level for math.  This particular discussion was between myself and the district's special education director.  In the end, we did utilize curriculum where her skill level was at for math.  I did my own research, and utilized contacts and resources to find what was used in the elementary schools in our district, and advocated for that to be used as her math curriculum.  Below is a section of the special ed law that addresses FAPE.  

281—41.17(256B,34CFR300) Free appropriate public education.   “Free appropriate public

education” or “FAPE” means special education and related services that are provided at public
expense, under public supervision and direction, and without charge; that meet the standards of the
SEA, including the requirements of this chapter; that include an appropriate preschool, elementary
school, or secondary school education; and that are provided in conformity with an individualized
education program (IEP) that meets the requirements of rules 281—41.320(256B,34CFR300) to281—41.324(256B,34CFR300).

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Comment by Joanna Schroeder on July 1, 2014 at 11:18am

Lisa - This post is very informative. I still struggle to learn what all the acronyms mean! I can only imagine how daunting it would be for parents when their child is newly diagnosed and needs an IEP - Individualized Education Plan. ASK resources has some great resources on IEP's and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). This document give s a great overview of an IEP:

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