ACRONYMSARD: Admission, Review, and IEP: Individualized EducationDismissal (IEP) ProgramCADRE: The National Center on Dispute IFSP: Individualized Family Services Plan Resolution in Special Education LEA: Local Educational AgencyCFR: Code of Federal Regulations LRE: Least Restrictive EnvironmentFAPE: Free Appropriate PublicEducation OCR: Office for Civil RightsFPCO: Family Policy Compliance OSEP: Office of Special EducationOffice (of FERPA) ProgramsFERPA: Family Education Rights and USC: United States CodePrivacy Act USDOE: U.S. Department of EducationIDEA: Individuals with DisabilitiesEducation Act §: Section, as in a particular section of the CFR or USC
What is (and is not) a facilitated Meeting?BACKGROUND INFORMATION: IS…•The IDEA does not require facilitated IEP •Voluntary – Both the Parent and themeetings. District must agree to participate.•States are not required to offer facilitated •At no cost to the Parent.meetings. •Focused on a specific goal, such as•According to a presentation delivered during completing a comprehensive, agreed-uponthe 2011 OSEP Megaconference, the first IEP for the Student.facilitated IEP meeting (with use of anexternal facilitator) occurred in Michigan. In IS NOT…2000, the CADRE held its “First NationalSymposium on Dispute Resolution.” •Binding, as in arbitration. •Confidential, as is mediation under the IDEA. •Meant to preclude other possible avenues to resolve disputes, such as mediation, Complaint, or a Due Process Complaint.
When & WhyPARTIES SHOULD USE FACILITATION: • Positive alternative to costly and divisive IDEA alternatives (e.g., Complaint Investigation or a• Student-focused meeting. Due Process Hearing).• Collaborative process. • Creative, “outside-the-box”• Forum for all team members to thinking and problem-solving in an effort to reach a common participate in a less stressful, goal – a comprehensive, positive meeting. appropriate IEP for the Student.• Can begin to rebuild trust and • Participants can reach repair communication agreements that are outside the scope/authority of a Complaint breakdowns between Parent and Investigator or a Hearing District personnel. Officer’s authority.
A Facilitator…. IS… IS NOT…• Neutral, impartial person.* • A team member.• Preferably, specially trained in the • A decision-maker or “stakeholder.” IDEA & applicable state laws. • A mediator.• Present to assist the team participants in developing an • A judge or an arbitrator. appropriate IFSP/IEP for the Student. • An advocate for either the Parent or• Positive communicator who the District. clarifies and summarizes. • Held to the same confidentiality• Timekeeper/Parking Lot. requirements as a mediator.* “External” vs. “Internal” Facilitator.
PLANNING AND PREPARING FOR A FACILITATED MEETING• What is the purpose of the meeting (e.g., • Draft a list of questions, concerns, and desired evaluation planning, 3-year reevaluation, outcomes to discuss with the facilitator. annual IEP review)? • Set-up pre-meeting telephone conference or a• What is the desired outcome of the meeting? meeting with the facilitator to discus questions, concerns, desired outcomes, previous barriers to• Identify previous barriers (e.g., interpersonal success, and the “positives” (what has worked conflict between team members, refusal to successfully in the past). consent to evaluation, communication, trust). • Request any accommodations you may need• Ascertain what has worked in the past, and/or accessibility issues with the facilitator – program-wise or personnel-wise. be very specific.• • Organize your records – many ways to do this, Whom is a required meeting participant? such as by subject matter (e.g., evaluations, IEP) Additional attendees expected? or chronologically. May want to consider color- coding key documents with ”tabs.” See next• Determine if the Student will attend the slide. meeting. • If the Student will not attend the meeting, bring• Positive mindset – What are the alternatives to a picture, Person Centered Plan brochure, or a facilitated meeting? None of the alternatives, prepare a short (2 to 3 minute) video of the are as Student-focused or as collaborative as a Student to share with the meeting participants. A facilitated meeting. sample Person Centered Plan brochure will be provided during the presentation.
Planning & Preparing for a facilitated meeting (records)• Special education records tend to be • Determine which records you currently have voluminous when, in reality, very few in your possession. documents are necessary (or referenced) during a facilitated meeting. • Identify which records, if any, you are missing from the Student’s file.• Identify the types of records that should be in the Student’s educational file: • If necessary, submit a written records request • Assessments to the District. • Correspondence • Disciplinary Records • The FERPA grants “access” to records, not copies of records, with limited exceptions. • Eligibility Paperwork • Emails • A District may charge for copies of education • Evaluations records with limited exceptions. • Prior Written Notices • Current trend among districts is to provide • Progress Reports education records electronically (or on a CD) • Report Cards to Parent or Attorney. See FERPA (20 U.S.C. § 1232g and its implementing regulations, 34 CFR Part 99).
Planning & Preparing for a facilitated meeting Organize Documents: Additional Tips:•There are several ways to organize a Student’s •Spend considerable time preparing and askingeducation records, such as: chronologically (e.g., yourself, “Which documents do I really need duringoldest to most current documents, or, most current the meeting?” Limit documents to the last two yearsdocuments to oldest documents), or by subject matter unless a document is germane to the discussion,(e.g., Evaluations, IEPs, Progress Notes), or a such as an initial evaluation or developmentalcombination of the those two methods. history summary.•After 13 years of experimenting (and trying about 30 •Once you have developed a records organizationdifferent records organization systems), my law firm system that works for you, maintain consistencyhas developed a system that works for us. I 100% of the time. When you receive a newemphasize “us” because what works for my document, have established procedures in place andlearning/processing style may not work for you. See follow them without exception.example file provided during the presentation. •In the age of “cloud computing,” many people type•Consider using tabs, color-coded “flags,” and adding notes or upload their handwritten notes to thedates to the “flags” so that you can quickly identify “cloud.” Don’t forget to print the notes and takerelevant documents with minimal effort. them with you to the facilitated meeting.•Trial and error – You may need to refine your •Consider investing in a scanner if you prefer toorganization system multiple times. Do what works keep your documents stored electronically.for you! •Yellow highlighters versus other colors of highlighters - photocopying issues.
Participation in and follow-up to a facilitated meeting• The facilitator will explain the process, his/her • Once agreement is reached on a particular item, role in that process, the desired outcome of the the facilitator will confirm consensus before facilitated meeting as expressed by the meeting moving to the next agenda item. participants, and the time allotted for the meeting. • In order to memorialize the agreements made, foster communication, and follow-thru on• The facilitator will review the previously commitments made during the facilitated IEP agreed-upon agenda that was developed thru meeting, the participants should develop a specific, consultation with the Parent and the District. written “Action Plan” that includes the following items:• If a meeting participant requests an addition or • Specific item(s) to be accomplished. revision to the previously agreed-upon agenda, • Identify whom will be responsible for each agreed- all participants must agree to such addition or upon item. revision. Otherwise, the original agenda • Provide a “due date” for each agreed-upon item. remains and should be followed by the facilitator. • The participants should agree upon a method of communication (possibly an email chain) to• The facilitator may utilize a large poster board, update each other in real-time when an item on or some other tool to list and track new or the Action Plan has been completed. unresolved issues. Frequently, this tool is considered (and called) a “Parking Lot” for items that will be addressed at a later • Distribute the Action Plan to all participants date/time. before they leave the meeting.
Checklist for a successful facilitated meeting☐ Follow proper procedures to request a facilitated ☐ Set up a telephone conference or a meting with the meeting. facilitator to discuss your question, concerns, previous barriers to success, and the “positives” (what has worked for the Student).☐ Agree on a particular facilitator. This is where“external” versus “internal” facilitator may become ☐ Discuss/request any necessary accommodationsan issue. with the facilitator that you need to ensure a comfortable meeting.☐ Ask yourself, “What do I want to accomplish ☐ Determine which records you need to prepare forduring this meeting? How can I help the most the meeting.important person – the Student?” ☐ Submit a written records request to the☐ Identify previous barriers to successful meetings. District/ESD, if necessary.☐ Identify portions of the Student’s IEP, program, ☐ Organize your records – very few records are really needed (or accessed) during a meeting.services, or personnel that have worked well for theStudent. ☐ If you intend to discuss a new document (e.g., private evaluation report) during the facilitated☐ Draft a list of questions, concerns, and issues to meeting, provide the document(s) to the facilitator and the District or Parent as many days in advancediscuss with the facilitator pre-meeting. of the meeting as possible.
Checklist for a successful facilitated meeting☐ Develop a written timeline of important/key ☐ Make a list of everything you need to take toevents related to the Student’s education, such the meeting, including pens, paper, highlightersas evaluations, initial eligibility or special copies of new documents that you recentlyeducation services, and IEP dates, for ease of provided to the District or Parent, snacks, picturesreference during the facilitated meeting. of the Student (or Person Centered Plan or video), and any necessary equipment needed (if☐ Create a written “Cast of Characters” (key you intend to show a video of the Student).people, relationship to the Student, date ofservice) and their contact information for ease ☐ At least two days before the facilitated meeting,of reference during the facilitated meeting. gather all the items on your list and set them aside. Inevitably, you will remember something☐ Consider bringing a friend to the meeting that you forgot to add to your list, so give yourselfwith you – someone who can offer you moral plenty of time to find the necessary item(s) andsupport, take notes, and gently nudge you if get minimize stress.“stuck in the past.” In addition, a note takerallows you to stay in the moment and to ☐ If the District and the Parent have agreed to aparticipate in the meeting without concerns of facilitated IEP meeting, that typically means thatmulti-tasking. previous meeting(s) didn’t go well, or, there may be conflict/trust issues impeding the participants’ ability to develop and implement an agreed-upon,☐ Arrange for child care, if necessary, and appropriate IEP for the Student. Acknowledge thereschedule other commitments so that you can stress and likely anxiety associated with theminimize your stress and focus on the facilitated upcoming meeting and take time for self-care.IEP meeting.
checklist for a successful facilitated meeting☐Attend the meeting with an open mind, ready tocollaborate for the most important person at thatgiven moment, the Student.☐ Allow the facilitator to assist the progress of thesharing of open, honest communication betweenall meeting participants.☐ If an impasse occurs, have confidence that thefacilitator will guide you thru this process.☐ Upon agreement, create an Action Plan.☐ It may take two meetings to reach the end goal,particularly if several issues are placed on the“Parking Lot” to discuss and resolve at a futuredate.☐ A facilitated IEP meeting is a powerfulmechanism to reach consensus in a collaborativemanner. The alternative options, particularly aComplaint and a Due Process Complaint arestressful, costly, and divisive. So, work hard toreach agreement and stay focused on the Student.
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES….http://www.copaa.org/(Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates)http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/(Extensive information about collaborative meetings, including facilitated meetings)http://www.disabilityisnatural.com/explore/pfl(People First Language resources)http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html(FERPA/FPCO resources)http://idea.ed.gov/(IDEA history and statutes/regulations)http://nichcy.org/(National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities)