Clearly identified conflicts may be effectively addressed through utilization of capable third parties. These collaborative conflict resolution options are characterized by interest-based problem solving.
Facilitation is a voluntary process that can be used when parties in an IEP, IFSP or other meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would facilitate communication and problem solving. It is most often used when there is a history of contentious interactions between the family and school, the participants anticipate that they will be unable to reach agreement on critical issues, or when a meeting is expected to be particularly complex and controversial. Facilitators often serve as special education mediators in their state and have received additional training beyond that which they received to become mediators. Additionally, many school districts have specially trained staff members to serve in their own schools, districts or regions, or to assist in others, to more effectively facilitate problematic IEP meetings.
Some States and LEAs offer a mediation model that is different than what IDEA requires. These approaches include panel or team mediation where two or or more mediators are used. Other models might include med/arb where a mediator becomes, with the support of the participants, a decision maker if they reached impasse. Also, online or cyber mediation is being used with increased frequency.
An ombudsperson is generally a third party who investigates complaints, proposes solutions, and negotiates with all parties.
In this approach, all parties to a dispute work with outside legal and/or special education experts to learn more about the merits of their position.