Inclusion of the specially abled in our schools
At 101 Mobility, we work with many families with children who have disabilities, helping them with mobility and accessibility needs. That’s one of the many reasons why we actively support our public schools in doing whatever is possible to support the inclusion of specially abled students.
To help promote better understanding of the issues, we wanted to provide some helpful information.
You may hear about “mainstreaming” and “inclusion” of Indiana students. What is the difference and how does it relate to Indiana and federal law?
- Mainstreaming refers to the selective placement of special education students in one or more “regular” education classes. Generally, a student must “earn” his or her opportunity to be placed in regular classes by demonstrating an ability to “keep up” with the work assigned by the regular classroom teacher.
- Different from mainstreaming, inclusion is a term expressing commitment to educate each child to the maximum extent appropriate, in the school and classroom he or she would otherwise attend. Inclusion involves bringing support services to the child (rather than moving the child to the services) and requires only that the child will benefit from being in the class, rather than having to keep up with the other students.
- Full inclusion means that all students, regardless of handicapping condition or severity, will be in a regular classroom/program full time.
Does federal law require inclusion? There are two federal laws governing education of children with disabilities. Neither requires inclusion, but both require that a significant effort be made to find an “inclusive placement.”
The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that children with disabilities be educated in the “least restrictive environment appropriate” to meet their unique needs. IDEA also recognizes that it is not appropriate to place all children in the regular education classroom.
Federal law requires school districts to have a “continuum of placements” available, extending from the regular education classroom to residential settings, in order to accommodate the needs of all children with disabilities. The law intends that the degree of “inclusion” be driven by the student’s needs as determined by the IEP (Individual Education Program) team, not by the district’s convenience or the parents’ wishes.
We’ve come a long way in full acceptance of those with disabilities – and there is still much more work to do. Thankfully, there are many Indiana and federally funded programs and services for children with developmental disabilities. Both pre-school and school-age children with a disability are eligible for a free and appropriate education through the public school system, from age three through their 21st birthday. Eligibility for special education services is determined through the local school corporation.
Find out more about your local school corporation by calling: 317-232-0570 or 877-851-4106.