Least Restrictive Environment or LRE is a special education term identified in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Public schools are required to provide all students, including those with special needs, a free education. For those with special needs, schools must provide that education to them in the Least Restrictive Environment. This specifically refers to the setting in which schooling is provided and is unique to the individual student’s needs while placing them in the same setting as non-disabled students as much as possible.
While many special needs students are fully inclusive with access to a recess room, others are only the regular classroom a few hours a day. These students spend the remainder of the day in a special needs classroom where the teacher-student ratio is reduced, and lessons cater more to their individual needs. For severely disabled students, the LRE, may be a full day special needs classroom.