WASHINGTON, DC – The Office of the State Superintendent OSSE DSE announced 2012 Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) Contract Awards. As part of the Federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), District schools are required to ensure that, to the maximum extent appropriate, students with disabilities are educated with students who are non-disabled.
Through this initiative, OSSE has made contract awards available to local education agencies (LEAs) that demonstrated success in increasing access to education in less restrictive settings and diverting students with high levels of need from separate, non-public placements.
The contract awards, which total approximately $5M, give LEAs the opportunity to continue their efforts to expand best practices that support FAPE in the LRE for students with disabilities. Activities can range from specialized staff training, additional curriculum materials, direct services and additional funding for serving students with disabilities.
“OSSE is charged with ensuring that high-quality specialized services reach every student who requires them,” said Assistant Superintendent of Specialized Education Dr. Amy Maisterra, noting that OSSE has projected $40 million in savings for FY13 as a result of setting non-public placement tuition rates, implementing policies and procedures that reduce non-public placements, and supporting District Public Schools in their efforts to increase special education capacity. “While using resources wisely is part of the equation, the primary intent of this award program is to create a clearinghouse for best practices in special education for the District of Columbia and to replicate them among schools across the District.” Participating LEAs will be expected to share these innovations through a briefing paper that will be published for public dissemination.
“We are all partners in education, and this initiative provides an innovative platform to showcase what works best for children with disabilities in the District,” added Dr. Maisterra.
Editor’s Note: A complete description of IDEA’s Free and Appropriate Public Education and Least Restrictive Environment provisions and OSSE’s Contract Award Criteria are available for download online at www.osse.dc.gov.