MOUNT VERNON — It is generally accepted that every child in the United States has the right to a free, appropriate public education.
Regardless of the child’s cognitive ability, emotional difficulties or physical handicaps, federal law, specifically the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004, mandates the child receive an education in what is called the least restrictive environment. That means the school district must, whenever possible, educate the child in the regular classroom or general education environment. Federal law is weighted in favor of inclusion in regular classrooms so special needs students have the opportunity to interact with their typical agemates.
Many special needs children are included in regular classrooms with extra supports such as an educational aide and extra tutoring. Some with more severe handicaps are taught in self-contained classrooms and have limited interaction with other students except, perhaps, in the cafeteria or at recess.
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