Washington Law Review


Sarah E. Farley


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires school districts to educate all students receiving special education in the "least restrictive environment" appropriate for each student's needs. This provision reflects Congress' preference that children with disabilities be educated alongside their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent possible. The U.S. Supreme Court has never determined how to test whether a school district has complied with this provision, so the federal circuits have developed several different tests. However, these circuit tests all arose prior to the most recent 1997 Amendments to the IDEA. This Comment explores the development and subsequent application of those tests, and argues that the Supreme Court should resolve this circuit split by adopting a single national test. This Comment then proposes a new analysis that synthesizes the best elements of the current tests and reflects the intent behind the 1997 Amendments.

First Page