Yes, in fact it is generally recommended that children with special needs be educated in an inclusive environment. Studies show that inclusive educational environments benefit both the individual with special needs and the typically-developing children. In certain circumstances, based on the specific needs of the individual, education in a separate program may be warranted.
There is no particular school, or even school district, that is specifically recommended. Parents are highly encouraged to meet with personnel within the school district and at various schools to discuss the specific needs of their child.
IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. This is a legally binding document that spells out exactly what special education services your child will receive and why. It will include your child’s classification, placement, services (such as a one-on-one aide and therapies) academic and behavioral goals, a behavior plan (if needed), percentage of time in regular education, and progress reports from teachers and therapists. Input from the child’s parents is not only acceptable, but necessary to develop the most effective IEP. It is important to remember that the IEP is designed to serve the best interests of the child (not the teacher, school or school district). The IEP is planned at an IEP meeting with appropriate school personnel (e.g., classroom teacher, special education teacher, therapists, administration, and others).
The first step in trying to resolve a dispute with your child’s IEP is to try to resolve it within the school and district. You can request an IEP meeting to discuss the situation. If that meeting does not provide a satisfactory conclusion, you can go to the district or state. Each school district should provide you with a copy of parental rights at or prior to the meeting. This, plus their website, will guide you on their complaint procedures. It is important to do everything in writing, using concise, polite language. To download a copy of the procedures for filing a complaint on a state level go to www.ade.az.gov/ess/dispute. A wonderful guide for dealing with schools and IEPs is “From Emotions to Advocacy, Second Edition, The Special Education Survival Guide”, by Pam and Pete Wright.