Thursday, November 10, 2016

Procedural Safeguards - The Series: Part VII #facilitatedIEP

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 this series, we are now discussing the dispute resolution options when parents and school officials disagree about the education of a child with a disability. Although IEP facilitation is not one of the dispute resolution methods specified by IDEA,  In order to help IEP teams reach agreements, several states and districts have been experimenting with facilitated Individualized 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 miscommunication and disagreements from derailing the IEP process.

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. Also, the CADRE website features a series of training videos on IEP facilitation which are available here.

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