Special Education

Placement Recommendation


The IEP must indicate the recommended placement of the student.

How should placement be indicated?

For purposes of the IEP, the identification of placement needs to specify where the student's IEP will be implemented. Placement should indicate the type of setting where the student will receive special education services. For example:

  • Public school district
  • BOCES class
  • BOCES class in public school
  • Approved private school or Special Act School District – day
  • Approved private school or Special Act School District – residential
  • State-operated school

Placement should not be confused with location of services

The student’s placement is the educational setting in which the student’s IEP will be implemented.  The location where each of the recommended services will be provided, as indicated in the section Recommended Special Education Programs and Services, specifies where, within that placement, the services will be provided (e.g., Placement:  Public High School.  Location of Services: consultant teacher services will be provided in the general education math class; individual speech and language therapy will be provided in a separate therapy room).

How is placement determined?

The IEP forms the basis for the placement recommendation.  Only after consideration and development of all other components of the student’s IEP, including the identification of the student’s strengths, needs, goals and the services necessary to meet those goals, does the Committee determine the recommended placement that is appropriate for the individual student.  Placement must be based on the student's needs and recommended services as identified in the student’s IEP and determined annually.

Placement decisions must be made on an individual basis in consideration of the student’s unique needs.  Placement decisions cannot be based solely on:

  • category of disability,
  • availability of special education and related services,
  • design of the service delivery system,
  • availability of space, or
  • administrative convenience.

Placement decisions must:

  • be based on the student’s strengths and needs;
  • reflect consideration of whether the student could achieve any of his/her IEP goals in a general education class with the use of supplementary aids and services and/or modifications to the curriculum;
  • consider the nonacademic benefits to the student that will result from interaction with nondisabled students; and
  • be developed in conformity with the least restrictive environment requirements.

Least restrictive environment means that placement of students with disabilities in special classes, separate schools and other removal from the general educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability is such that, even with the use of supplementary aids and services, education cannot be satisfactorily achieved.  The placement of an individual student with a disability in the least restrictive environment must:

  • provide the special education needed by the student;
  • provide for education of the student to the maximum extent appropriate to the needs of the student with other students who do not have disabilities; and
  • be as close as possible to the student’s home and, unless the student’s IEP requires some other arrangement, the student must be educated in the school he or she would have attended if not disabled.

In selecting the least restrictive environment, consideration must be given to any potential harmful effect on the student or on the quality of the services that the student needs.  A student with a disability must not be removed from education in age-appropriate general education classrooms solely because of needed modifications in the general curriculum.

In addition, for preschool students, prior to recommending the provision of special education services in a setting which includes only preschool children with disabilities, the CPSE must first consider providing special education services in a setting where age-appropriate peers without disabilities are typically found.  A CPSE may only consider provision of special education services in a setting with no regular contact with age-appropriate peers without disabilities when the nature or severity of the child’s disability is such that education in a less restrictive environment with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.

Quality Indicators

Placement decisions:

  • are based on student’s individual strengths and needs, without regard to classification.
  • are determined by a process that first considers a general education environment in the school the student would attend if he/she did not have a disability.
  • reflect consideration of the full range of the student’s needs and abilities (academic or educational achievement and learning characteristics, social development, physical development and management needs, including a student’s transition needs).
  • reflect consideration of whether the student could achieve any of his/her IEP goals in a general education class, including nonacademic classes, with the use of supplementary aids and services.
  • are not based solely on whether the student needs modifications to the curriculum.
  • reflect flexible consideration of all options of the continuum of services.
  • consider opportunities for the student to participate with students without disabilities in all nonacademic and extracurricular activities.
  • consider access to course credit.
  • consider potential harmful effects of removal from the general education setting or on the quality of services the student needs.
  • consider proximity to the student’s home.
  • are reviewed at least annually.
Last Updated: June 30, 2010