The facilitated IEP meeting includes all of the required team members pursuant to the Code of Federal Regulations, section 300.321. The purpose of a facilitated IEP meeting is to develop an acceptable IEP and it involves the required IEP team members and the facilitator. The facilitator will lead the team through the agenda – the legally required IEP process. Similar to any IEP meeting, a facilitated IEP meeting is scheduled by the district and is held at a time and place mutually agreed upon by the parent and school. The district must give proper notice to the parent including the purpose, the time, and the place where the meeting will occur, and who will attend. Just as in any IEP meeting, parents can bring an advocate or other individuals at their discretion. A facilitated IEP meeting may take longer than a typical IEP meeting. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) requests a minimum of three hours. A facilitated IEP meeting can always be reconvened if consensus on the IEP is not reached at the first meeting. An attempt to convene a facilitated IEP meeting cannot be used to deny or delay a parent’s right to a due process hearing and facilitators are not used to resolve disputes unrelated to the IEP.
Facilitators are individuals on the roster of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) practitioners who have experience and training in IEP development and conflict resolution. The facilitator is not a decision-maker, is impartial and does not represent the parent, the school district or the state. ADR practitioners are assigned by ADR Services on a rotation basis and parties have the right to request a different ADR practitioner than the one assigned. If a specific ADR practitioner is requested, both parties must agree.
The purpose, participants, process, and outcomes for mediation versus IEP Facilitation are different. The purpose of mediation is to resolve specific issues. Mediation usually involves fewer, and a more balanced number of participants, and the mediator. Mediation may deal with a broad range of issues using the mediation process; and when agreements are reached, it results in a binding mediated agreement.
The ADR practitioners on Minnesota’s roster have extensive mediation experience and come from a wide variety of backgrounds including work in education, psychology, ministry, restorative justice, law, arbitration, organizational development, risk management and trainers of mediation. Their experience may include mediating with farmer-lender, families, businesses, EEOC and human rights, vocational rehabilitation and community programs. Special education facilitators have extensive mediation and facilitation experience. Applicants are chosen based on their competency, style, neutrality, experience and location.
40 hours of training is required.
The Facilitated IEP Project Grant began when representatives of all regional service centers came together for training and subsequently to map out a collaborative effort to shift the bulk of dispute resolution activity in the state toward the local school district. TEA provides quarterly data reports to the ESCs on dispute resolution events and issues and the technical assistance staff use the data to monitor and adjust the facilitation activities in the region. There is no cap on the time limit so the meetings could go as long as eight or ten hours each.