Promoting productive child-centered IEP meetings that are conducted in a respectful and collaborative manner
IEP facilitation is a process that helps foster effective communication between parents and districts as they develop a mutually acceptable Individualized Education Program (IEP). This process may be used as a preventative measure in which a trained facilitator promotes whole team participation, acknowledging and addressing differing opinions in a respectful and neutral manner. IEP facilitation can improve relationships between school districts and parents in order to effectively plan services to meet the needs of the student.
State-sponsored IEP facilitation is a free service offered to districts and parents of students with disabilities. Although there is no cost for this service, ISBE will not pay for any costs of the parties associated with the facilitated IEP meeting (e.g., mileage, meals, wage loss, advocate fees, attorney fees, etc.)
The IEP facilitation process is intended to promote effective communication and prevent conflicts. Therefore, a conflict does not need to exist to make a request. However, if a conflict is likely or occurring, a request is still appropriate.
Both parties will need to agree that it would be valuable to have a neutral facilitator present at the IEP meeting to assist with the development of the IEP before a facilitator will be assigned to the case.
Development of the IEP Facilitation System
States and school districts are increasingly turning toward this less costly measure and finding improved relationships between districts and parents, a greater number of mutually acceptable IEPs, and a reduction in the number of districts and parents utilizing formal dispute resolution options. As a result of the interest in IEP facilitation among districts and parents in Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) committed to developing an IEP Facilitation System, in partnership with Boone-Winnebago Regional Office of Education (ROE).
The process ISBE used in the development of the IEP Facilitation System included:
- Looking at IEP Facilitation Systems and data from other states
- Reviewing Illinois data and current structures and processes
- Utilizing stakeholder input to assist in finalizing the details of the IEP Facilitation System
More information about Illinois’ creation of the system can be found in the following two documents:
ISBE invited districts of varying sizes and demographics across the state to participate in a 12 month pilot project. The pilot phase has concluded and the project is now ready for statewide implementation.
Rules of IEP Facilitation
- General Information
- The parameters of confidentiality apply to all IEP meetings, including facilitated IEP meetings.
- The parties cannot compel the facilitator to appear at any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding which might occur after facilitation has been concluded.
- IEP facilitation sessions are “typically” completed within a three (3) hour timeline to allow for a productive exchange of ideas in the development of a mutually agreeable IEP document.
- When a facilitated IEP meeting is not progressing, the facilitator or parties may terminate the facilitation.
- The state-sponsored facilitator is a neutral third party trained in IEP facilitation techniques, but is not an employee of the school district. * Some school districts may choose to train their own staff members as facilitators - these individuals would not be considered state-sponsored facilitators.
- The facilitator is not a member of the IEP team or an advocate for any person on the team.
- The facilitator promotes dialogue and encourages participation for decision making, but does not impose a decision on the group.
- Facilitation Participants
- Facilitation participants must include all required IEP team members to complete the IEP process, including the parent and when appropriate, the child.
- At the discretion of the parent or the district, participants may include attorneys, advocates, interpreters, and other relevant parties who have knowledge of the student.
- IEP Requirements and Documentation
- The school district retains the responsibility for following the special education requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
- As with any other IEP meeting, the school district is responsible for providing notification of the IEP meeting, meeting timelines, ensuring attendance of required participants, as well as developing and implementing the IEP for an eligible student.
- This district is also responsible to provide a copy of the IEP document to the parent, as well as send notice to the parent regarding the provision of services.
- ISBE will not keep a copy of the IEP document. The only record retained of the facilitated IEP meeting is the result of the session, the date(s), time(s), and location of the facilitated IEP session(s).
- IEP documents are enforceable through the state complaint process or a due process hearing.
Requests can be made by:
- Public school district staff members;
- Parents, including guardians and surrogate parents, of a child with a disability (or a child suspected of having a disability) who reside in a public school district;
- Adult students (18 years and older) with a disability residing in a public school district;
- Individuals acting on behalf of parents/students; and
- Individuals acting on behalf of public school districts.
Requests will be denied if:
- Both parties do not agree to facilitation;
- The request is not received with sufficient time to assign a facilitator (e.g., district must hold the IEP meeting by a certain date to meet a regulatory timeline); or
- Demand for IEP facilitation exceeds the number of available facilitators.
IEP Facilitation Request Form
The Illinois State Board of Education’s IEP Facilitation Coordinator can assist, if necessary.
Contact Sherry Colegrove, ISBE, in one of the following ways:
Guidance Documents and Resources
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