What Parents and Caregivers Should Look for in an Inclusive School

Though much work has been done to improve inclusive and equitable practices in schools, a great deal more attention needs to be paid to ensure that marginalized children receive the support they need. In Pennsylvania, equity has been defined as “every student having access to the educational resources and rigor they need at the right moment in their education across race, gender, ethnicity, language, disability, sexual orientation, family background and/or family income.”

Additionally, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) has noted that “to do their best, students must feel safe at school. A healthy and safe environment can help students thrive, and every student, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression should be provided the opportunity to learn – free from discrimination, fear, or harassment.”

For children with disabilities, this means that the student needs access to the least restrictive environment (LRE), according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Title 22 Pennsylvania Code, Chapter 14 Special Education Services and Programs.

When deciding on a school for a child with special needs, a parent or caregiver may want to meet with the school first to discuss how the school provides accommodations and modifications. Download this checklist from Stenson & Associates to access a list of questions to help navigate this first meeting with a school administrator.

A group of young children sit together in a circle on the ground, writing on pieces of paper and talking to an early learning professional.