Facilitated Individualized Education Program (FIEP) meetings present one option for early, alternative dispute resolution in special education. Although it has been suggested that this process may be useful in resolving disputes and improving relationships, these hypotheses have not been directly addressed. In this study, we used individual participant feedback data collected by a northwestern state over a 2-year period to answer the following research questions: (a) What are the perceived outcomes of FIEP meetings in terms of agreement, reduced future use of procedural safeguards, and improved relationships between school staff and family? and (b) What are the predictors of these positive participant perceptions of the outcomes of FIEP meetings? We found that respondents perceived FIEP meetings to be successful, with more than half of respondents reporting an outcome of full agreement by all team members, 44% reporting reduced future use of procedural safeguards, and 42% reporting an improved relationship between school staff and family following the meeting. Using multilevel models, we found that perceived facilitator quality was a significant predictor of all three positive outcomes, even after controlling for significant meeting characteristics such as region and year. Given these initial findings, we also provide implications for research, practice, and policy.
This article is available through the generous cooperation of the Hammill Institute on Disabilities and Sage Publishing.