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IEP team meeting facilitation is a voluntary process, at no cost to the parties, that can be used when the parties to an IEP meeting agree that the presence of a neutral third party would assist them in communicating and in the successful drafting of an IEP for a student. Though most IEP team meetings flow smoothly and do not need the assistance of a facilitator, sometimes conflicts arise, impasse occurs, new and or complex issues emerge, or other problems develop, and outside assistance is useful to maintain focus on the development of an IEP for the student.The intent is to help special education teams who may be experiencing difficulty to stay directed toward a discussion of the student's needs, make decisions, and reach agreement. 
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 

System Design/Management

The Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) conducts mediations,IEP Facilitation, advisory opinions and due process hearings to resolve disputes among parents, school districts, private schools and state agencies. The BSEA derives its authority from both federal law and regulations and Massachusetts law and regulations (MGL ch. 71B). The BSEA is an independent subdivision of the Division of Administrative Law Appeals.

Policy/Procedures

All federal and state laws related to the development of the IEP continue to apply. If a dispute continues beyond the facilitated team meeting, the facilitator will not be the same person who might later be assigned as the mediator.

Personnel

A trained, impartial facilitator, who is not part of the team, is present to assist team members to:

  • Develop and follow an agenda;
  • Stay focused on the goal of developing an acceptable IEP;
  • Problem solve;
  • Resolve conflicts that arise during the meeting;
  • Maintain open communication;
  • Clarify issues; and
  • Timely complete the meeting.
Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services

Either the school district or the parent can request a facilitator for the IEP Team meeting. Both parties must agree to accept the facilitator's services. School districts and parents who agree to request a facilitator may do so by calling the BSEA.