Monday, April 14, 2014

Weekly Question!

Dispute Resolution is at the heart of the Procedural safeguards provided by the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. Which dispute resolution methods under IDEA have you had the most success with? Leave your story in the comments.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Procedural Safeguards - The Series Part VII

Meetings are sometimes held around conference ...
Meetings are sometimes held around conference tables. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)














This is the seventh installment in a multi-part series on procedural safeguards under the federal special education law, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. I work a lot in this area, so it is near and dear to my heart. Despite the importance of procedural safeguards. however, many issues in this area are misunderstood. I hope that all of the different types of special education stakeholders who read this blog find the information in this series helpful. Be sure to tell me what you think about the series.



Facilitated IEPs


In order to help IEP teams reach agreements, several states and districts have been experimenting with facilitatedIndividualized Education Program (IEP) meetings. The use of externally facilitated IEP meetings is a growing national trend. When relationships between parents and schools are difficult, facilitated meetings may be helpful.

While a facilitator does not chair the IEP team meeting, he helps keep members of the team focused on the development of the IEP while at the same time defusing conflicts and disagreements that may arise during the meeting. At the meeting, the facilitator uses a number of communication and other skills that create an environment in which the IEP team members can listen to and consider each other’s suggestions and work together to complete the development of an IEP that will provide FAPE for the child.

The type of person who facilitates the meeting varies. Sometimes, a member of the team will facilitate the meeting. In some cases, a district representative with expert facilitation skills may be called in to help the team complete the IEP process. In other cases, another parent, a trained parent advocate, or support person may facilitate the meeting. Occasionally a student may lead his own IEP meetings. 

When IEP teams reach an impasse or meetings are expected to be extremely contentious, however, an independent, trained facilitator not affiliated with the team or school district may be able to help guide the process. The presence of the trained facilitator helps keep the team members on task. The facilitator also is trained in using techniques to help prevent miscommunications and disagreements from derailing the IEP process.

I recently took a training on IEP facilitation at the University of Delaware.  The training was very intensive and required a lot of practice.  IEP facilitation requires skill and empathy.  I admire the folks who are rally good at this!

A helpful guide to IEP Facilitation by the TAA Alliance and CADRE may be found here: 
All of the materials from the presentations at the National Conference on IEP Facilitation sponsored by CADRE are available here
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Weekly Question!

Procedural safeguards are at the heart of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. As we conduct a new informational series on procedural safeguards, what would you change about IDEA's scheme for protecting parent/student rights?

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Procedural Safeguards - The Series Part VI

U.S. Supreme Court building.
U.S. Supreme Court building. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)























This is the sixth installment in a multi-part series on procedural safeguards under the federal special education law, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. I work a lot in this area, so it is near and dear to my heart. Despite the importance of procedural safeguards. however, many issues in this area are misunderstood. I hope that all of the different types of special education stakeholders who read this blog find the information in this series helpful. Be sure to tell me what you think about the series.

There are four dispute resolution mechanisms provided by theIndividuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400, et seq, (hereafter sometimes referred to as “IDEA”) and the accompanying federal regulations: mediation, state complaints, resolution sessions, and due process hearings. In addition, some states and districts are experimenting with fifth method-facilitated IEP meetings.


Special education disputes may be resolved through any of the five methods or by any combination of the methods. It is highly unusual under the law for an aggrieved party to be permitted to invoke more than one resolution option. Although mediation is often used in combination with litigation, it is rare for other formal methods to be combined. An unhappy party could file a state complaint wait for the results and then file a due process hearing over the same dispute. The same dispute can be submitted at any time in the process to mediation. A resolution session occurs in every due process filed by a parent unless waived or submitted to mediation in lieu thereof. It is true that if the complaint and due process are filed at the same time, the portions of the state complaint duplicating the due process complaint are held in abeyance until resolution of the due process, but if they are not filed at the same time, there is no prohibition upon the utilization of multiple methods. 

Adding to the frustration of this lack of finality is the fact that the result of most of the options may also be appealed to one or more levels of the court system. The U. S. Supreme Court has noted that the judicial review process for special education cases takes a long time, referring to the appellate process as “ponderous.” Town of Burlington v. Dept of Educ 471 U.S. 358, 105 S.Ct. 1996, 556 IDELR 389 (1985).

A wealth of resources about dispute resolution in special education are available on the CADRE website.

This link is to the NICHCY Training Program – Module 18: Options for Dispute Resolution:

Last year, OSEP issued a 64 page Q & A document concerning dispute resolution. You can read our blog post on the disputr resolution Q & A document, which includes a link to the document, here.
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Monday, March 31, 2014

Weekly Question!

Procedural safeguards are at the heart of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. As we conduct a new informational series on procedural safeguards, what would you change about IDEA's scheme for protecting parent/student rights?

Monday, March 24, 2014

Weekly Question!

Procedural safeguards are at the heart of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act. As we conduct a new informational series on procedural safeguards, what would you change about IDEA's scheme for protecting parent/student rights?