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