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. IEP Facilitation is not used to resolve disputes unrelated to the IEP. Typically, a case manager or another member of the IEP team facilitates the meeting. In some instances, students may lead their own IEP meetings. These are internal facilitators. 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.
System Oversight, Infrastructure and Organization: 


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. 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.


The facilitator is not a decision-maker but models effective communication skills and offers ways to address and resolve issues related to the IEP development. They are impartial and do not represent the parent, the school district or the State.

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.

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 IEP Facilitation form that can be downloaded from the SDDOE website at: or by calling SDDOE at (605) 773-3678.


Program Contact: 
Wendy M. Trujillo
Administrator and Dispute Coordinator
Division of Special Education and Early Learning