Faculty Publications

Examining Paradoxes of Access in Disability Law: A Critical Analysis of the Least Restrictive Environment

Document Type



critical discourse analysis, disability policy, Inclusion, least restrictive environment, theoretical pluralism

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of Education Policy


We employ theoretical pluralism and engage in a multi-level analysis to understand how the racialized segregation of students with dis/Abilities persists despite a commitment to inclusion via the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) provision embedded within one of the most significant civil rights inspired legislation impacting students with dis/Abilities in the United States (US)–the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). We use critical discourse analysis, case study and vignette analysis, and critical autoethnography to understand how injustices are sustained across macro (legal), meso (school or institutional), and micro (student) levels of the school system through the LRE provision. We find that the LRE provision promotes ableism and fails to adequately address intersectionalities which sustain racialized educational inequities under a rights framework across macro, meso, and micro levels. We conclude by describing how the LRE provision sustains inequality and promotes seclusion under the guise of inclusion.


Department of Special Education


Department of Online Education & Individual Studies

Original Publication Date


DOI of published version