IEP Facilitation

What is Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation?

This dispute resolution option is only available for school-age children.
SoonerStart does not participate in facilitated IFSP meetings at this time.

A facilitated IEP team meeting is one that includes an impartial facilitator. The facilitator is not a member of the IEP Team but, rather, is there to keep the IEP Team focused on developing the child’s program while addressing conflicts as they arise.  A facilitated IEP meeting is the same as any other IEP meeting, except that a facilitator joins the meeting.  This is an informal approach to help families and schools resolve disputes and is optional – both parents and the school must agree to participate.

IEP facilitation supports early dispute resolution, providing assistance to the IEP team before a potential conflict develops into a more serious dispute.  The facilitator can help promote communication among IEP Team members and work toward resolving differences of opinion that may occur concerning the provision of a free appropriate public education to a child. The facilitator helps keep the IEP Team on task so that the meeting purposes can be accomplished within the time allotted for the meeting.

It is important to note that IEP Facilitation is not mentioned in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and it is not listed as one of the dispute resolution options in the law’s procedural safeguards and is not available in all states.  However, to help families and schools resolve disagreements at the earliest possible time, the Oklahoma State Department of Education’s Special Education Services (OSDE-SES) has contracted with the Special Education Resolution Center (SERC) to provide this services to Oklahoma’s school-aged families of children with disabilities.

Sources:  Five Options, 1-2-3.  Center for Parent Resources and Information.  Special Education Handbook.  Oklahoma State Department of Education – Special Education Services. 

What are the Benefits of the Facilitated IEP Meeting?

The facilitator is trained to work with the IEP team to create an agenda and ground rules for the meeting.  They also keep the team members on task and student-focused.  The facilitator uses effective communication and listening and works with the IEP team to identify points on which they can agree and disagree.

A facilitated team meeting:

  • is free for the participants;
  • scheduled just like an IEP meeting – at a time and place that all team members can attend;
  • may build and improve relationships among IEP team members and between parents and schools, especially when they are having difficulty working together;
  • encourage parents and professionals to consider new options to address unresolved problems;
  • provides opportunities for team members to resolve conflicts as they arise;
  • supports follow through and follow-up – roles and responsibilities can be discussed and planned;
  • is the IEP meeting and does not require a separate IEP meeting to formalize any agreements;
  • help resolve disagreements more quickly than with other dispute resolutions options; and
  • maintain decision-making with the IEP team members who know the student best.

Sources:  Facilitated Team Meetings, Pacer Center, Inc.  Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation:  A Guide for Parents of Children and Youth (Ages 3-21), Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE).

How Do I Request a Facilitator Attend My IEP Meeting?

Currently, the Special Education Resolution Center (SERC) manages the dispute resolution system for the State of Oklahoma.  Either parents or schools can request a facilitated IEP meeting.  However, both parties must agree to use this voluntary process and there needs to be sufficient conflict on both sides to qualify.  The SERC office has a “screening” process to determine if this dispute resolution option is the best for your situation.
For more information about the scheduling a Facilitated IEP Meeting, call 888-267-0028 or 918-270-1849, talk with your school district, or visit the SERC Facilitated IEP website.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can request IEP facilitation?

Parents or school district staff may request IEP facilitation.  However, not all conflicts are sufficient enough to warrant having a facilitator attend your IEP meeting.  The SERC office has a “screening” process to determine if this dispute resolution option is the best for your situation.

Who will choose the facilitator?

Sometimes facilitators are selected on a random, rotational, or other neutral basis.

Do I have the right to have a facilitator at an IEP meeting?

No. IEP facilitation is not required under the IDEA. Check with your school district or parent center to see what types of collaborative problem-solving options are available to you and the IEP team.

Does the facilitator make decisions?

No. Facilitators are trained in effective communication and ways to address and resolve conflicts. They help IEP teams work together to develop effective IEPs for students. Members of IEP teams are the decision-makers.

Who attends a facilitated IEP meeting?

An appointed facilitator and members of the IEP team attend, including the student’s parents, regular and special education teachers, a school district representative, and someone who can explain how evaluation results may be reflected in the student’s IEP.

The IDEA also provides that parents or the school district may bring other people who have knowledge or special expertise regarding the student, such as an advocate.

May the student attend the facilitated IEP meeting?

A parent may choose to have the student attend the facilitated IEP meeting, depending upon the child’s age and level of maturity. Participating in a facilitated IEP meeting may provide a positive opportunity for the student to learn about self-advocacy.

Where and when is a facilitated IEP meeting held?

The facilitated IEP meeting is usually scheduled by the school district, in cooperation with the parent, and held at a time and place that is mutually agreed upon.

Do I have to pay for the facilitated IEP meeting?

As with any IEP meeting, a facilitated IEP meeting is provided at no cost to parents.

What happens if we don’t finish the IEP?

A facilitated team meeting may take longer than a typical IEP meeting. It is recommended that a minimum of four hours and suggests reserving a full day for this meeting. If an agreement about the IEP is not reached at the first meeting, another meeting may be scheduled.

What if the team is unable to agree on an IEP at the facilitated meeting?

If issues, disagreements, or problems are not resolved at the facilitated IEP meeting, you may want to consider mediation or another form of dispute resolution. Your participation in the facilitated IEP meeting does not affect your parental rights to other dispute resolution options, such as mediation, due process, and filing a state complaint.

Sources:  Facilitated Team Meetings, Pacer Center, Inc.  Individualized Education Program (IEP) Facilitation:  A Guide for Parents of Children and Youth (Ages 3-21), Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE).

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