This voluntary process uses a Resolution Facilitator, a person trained in mediation, to help resolve issues impartially and at the earliest level. Each Area Education Agency (AEA) has a designated person who serves in this role. This process may be requested when disagreements arise between school officials and parent over educational issues. A Resolution Facilitator may be either an individual from within the school district who is considered neutral to the conflict or an individual selected from outside the district in which the conflict has occurred, but is not assigned by the state. The conflict or concerns may involve general education, Section 504, special education, Early ACCESS, or any issue involving a school setting. The conflict may be between educators and parents, educators and educators, or any other employee hired by the district or AEA. There are at least four options that may involve a Resolution Facilitator:
- Some type of conflict which could lead to mediation
- An IEP meeting should there be a potential for an adversarial meeting
- A “resolution meeting ” after a parent has filed a due process hearing notice to the district and AEA (and which must be addressed within 15 days)
- Any other type of meeting to serve as a facilitator when conflict may be anticipated
The AEA Resolution Facilitator system is a statewide conflict resolution process available through each of Iowa’s nine intermediate agencies (area education agencies). Each AEA has a designated person (or persons) known as the AEA Resolution Facilitator Coordinator. The major goal of the AEA Resolution Facilitator process is to have an option available to help resolve differences at the earliest possible time. Another goal is to have persons receive conflict resolution skill training so that individuals will enhance their skills to get differences addressed and meaningfully resolved in a collaborative manner.
There is a general schedule that is typical of the AEA Resolution Facilitator Process. It may look somewhat different depending on the needs of those involved.
1. Introductory remarks are given by the Resolution Facilitator, with the parties signing an agreement to continue with the process.
2. The parties share their view of the situation. There will be a decision on who should
3. The problems are clarified and put in order to be discussed.
4. All solutions are developed, discussed, and negotiated together.
5. When you reach an understanding, the Resolution Facilitator will help you craft the agreement, using the words of the parties. The Resolution Facilitator may ask the parties to select a “shepherd” who will oversee the agreement and serve as the point of contact.
Before closing the session, the Resolution Facilitator will make sure the statement is accurate. If an agreement is reached, the Resolution Facilitator will prepare a written agreement. Parties will decide whether the agreement will be in good faith and therefore non-binding or will be considered “legally binding”.
Resolution Facilitator will:
- Explain the process and answer questions.
- Assist in establishing basic communication guidelines.
- Help clarify issues of concern.
- Assist in a conversation about how to improve the situation.
- Make no judgement, but instead focus the responsibility for resolving the issues on those present.
In order to access a resolution facilitator, a parent or school district could fill out a form or call the AEA in which the child attends school.
If the AEA Resolution Facilitator Coordinator does not have a Resolution Facilitator
available or the Coordinator believes the conflict is of a magnitude greater than the AEA is willing to attempt to resolve, the Coordinator will contact the Iowa Department of Education for assistance. The State of Iowa has agreed to use its state mediators when the Coordinator seeks assistance from the State.
AEA Facilitators have received a minimum of four days of introductory mediation training, although many have far exceeded that. The following training is available statewide for resolving conflict :
RESPECT in the IEP Process: Recognizing Everyone's Strengths by Peacebuilding, Empathizing, Communicating and Trustbuilding. (4 days spread out over 9 - 12 weeks so as to allow participants to practice new skills and concepts between training sessions).
- Introductory Mediation: (4 days)
- Advanced Mediation: (4 days)
- Advanced Mediation: Part II (2 days)
- Creating Solutions: Parent training in same core skills that are addressed in trainings for educators. (One day)
This option may prove financially attractive to states and districts because Resolution Facilitators typically provide services at no cost, although the agency using the service may reimburse the sending AEA expenses such as mileage, meals, and motel. When the State mediators are used, the State will cover the costs.
Step 1. Contact the designated AEA Resolution Facilitator Coordinator.
Step 2. Inform the Coordinator what type of option is desired.
Step 3. The Coordinator will determine whether the request can be implemented and act accordingly. Use of the process will be at the discretion of the parties involved.
Each AEA is responsible for promoting and disseminating information about the Resolution Facilitator process, such as disseminating brochures or including the information on district and AEA website. The State is also instrumental in promoting its use.