Parents of children with disabilities and school staff sometimes disagree about a child’s special education and related services. A facilitated IEP meeting is an IEP meeting that includes an impartial facilitator who promotes effective communication and who assists the IEP team in developing an acceptable IEP. The facilitator keeps the team focused on the proper development of the IEP while addressing conflicts that arise.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 


A facilitated IEP meeting may take longer than a standard IEP meeting, but typically does
not exceed four hours. A facilitated IEP meeting can always be reconvened if consensus on the IEP is not reached at the first meeting IEP Facilitation is not used to resolve disputes unrelated to the IEP. The facilitator:

  • Assists members of the IEP team to focus on developing a satisfactory IEP and will assist in creating an overall agenda for the meeting.
  • Guides the discussion by keeping the team’s energy centered on student-focused questions such as “Where does the student need to be a year from now?”
  • Assists the team to resolve disagreements that arise during the meeting.
  • Fosters open communication.
  • Asks clarifying questions about issues.
  • Keeps the team members on task.
  • Maintains impartiality and does not take sides, place blame or determine if a particular decision is right or wrong.
  • Does not impose a decision on the group.


When IEP teams reach an impasse or meetings are expected to be contentious, an independent (external) facilitator, who is not affiliated with the team or school district, may help guide the process. The external facilitator keeps members of the IEP team focused on the development of the IEP and will foster effective communication in order to complete the development of a high quality IEP. They are impartial and do not represent the parent, the school district or the state.

Forms/Letter Templates

ND-4 Request form FIEP meeting


IEP facilitation should not be confused with mediation. The purpose of a facilitated IEP
meeting is to develop an acceptable IEP and involves the required IEP team members
plus the facilitator. Unlike mediation, a facilitated IEP meeting does not require a separate IEP meeting to formalize the agreements that are reached. Mediation also differs from IEP facilitation in that it involves a smaller, balanced number of participants and may deal with a broader range of issues unrelated to the IEP.

Practitioner Standards & Professional Development: 

Practitioner Qualifications

Facilitators are individuals with a background in special education who have experience and training in IEP development, special education law, and facilitation methods. The facilitator is neither an attorney nor a decision - maker but models effective communication skills and offers ways to address and resolve issues related to the IEP development. 

Public Awareness & Outreach Activities: 

Availability/Accessing Services

When the IEP team process has been difficult or ineffective at developing an IEP acceptable to the parents and school district, either party may seek to use a facilitator. You may request a facilitated IEP by completing the Request for a Facilitated IEP Meeting      more/lessform that can be downloaded from the NDDPI website at: or by calling NDDPI at the telephone number listed on the front of this brochure. Requests should be addressed to the Dispute Resolution Coordinator at the address printed on the front of this brochure.


ND - IEP Facilitation Brochure