California Special Education Law

Advocacy Resources, Hearing & Appeal Decisions, Statistics and More for Parents

Your Special Needs Child's Legal Rights

Mainstreaming, Integration, Full Inclusion and Least Restrictive Environment

Legal Development

Another fundamental principle of the IDEA is the requirement that children with disabilities receive their education with non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible. While the term “mainstreaming” is not found in the language of either the statute or its regulations, the concept of the least restrictive environment is provided for in the regulations.


Federal law provides, in part, that each local educational agency must ensure that: “To the maximum extent appropriate, children with disabilities, including children in public or private institutions or other care facilities, are educated with children who are not disabled, and special day classes, separate schooling or other removal of children with disabilities from the regular educational environment occurs only when the nature or severity of the disability of a child is such that education in regular classes with the use of supplementary aids and services cannot be achieved satisfactorily.”

20 U.S.C. § 1412(a)(5)