The South Carolina Department of Education (SCDE) Office of Special Education Services (OSES) provides informal dispute resolution assistance to families and schools as they address concerns related to programming for students with disabilities. This assistance includes providing facilitators, when requested. to assist with the individualized education program (IEP) process. Facilitation is available at no cost to parents and school districts and is a voluntary process. Both parties must agree that it would be valuable to have a neutral person, the facilitator, participate in an IEP team meeting to assist the team in discussing issues and reaching consensus.
When is IEP Facilitation Appropriate?
In most situations, the IEP team is able to reach agreement about identification, evaluation, educational program, placement, and overall provision of a free appropriate public education (FAPE) for a student with a disability. However, parents or a district may wish to consider requesting IEP facilitation when they have:
• Concerns about communication and trust among IEP team members
• Apprehensions about the next IEP team meeting
• Difficulties reaching consensus on important aspects of an IEP
What is the Role of the Facilitator?
The IEP facilitator assists in the development of an appropriate IEP by:
• Assisting in maintaining open communication among team members
• Addressing conflicts and disagreements that may arise during the meeting
• Helping to clarify points of agreement and disagreement
• Keeping the IEP team. and the meeting process on task
Who are the Facilitators?
Facilitators are members of the education community who are experienced and knowledgeable in special education related issues. They are trained in facilitation and conflict resolution, but are not employees of the school district or the SCDE.
The Facilitated IEP Meeting
The facilitated IEP team meeting begins and ends with member agreement. The facilitator explains the overall process and their role as facilitator. obtains team agreement on the agenda, group norms, and meeting outcomes, and ends the meeting with a team agreed upon plan of action. The facilitation process addresses the specific areas of concern noted by the family and/or district and may be used tor any type of IEP team meeting including initial. annual, special review, or reevaluation meetings.
Who Do I Contact; and How Do I Get Started?
A request for facilitation can be made by contacting the SCDE IEP Facilitation Program Coordinator and completing an Facilitated IEP Request Form. You can download the Facilitated IEP Request Form from the SCDE website. You may also request a copy of the form from your local school district special education services office.
The completed form can be submitted electronically, or by mail to the SCDE.
South Carolina Department of Education, Office of Special Education Services
1919 Blanding Street
Columbia, SC 29201
Facilitated Individualized Education Program Team Meetings
A Facilitated IEP Team Meeting:
• Builds and improves relationships between parents and schools
• Provides opportunities for IEP team members to resolve conflicts
• Encourages IEP team members to identify new options to address student needs
• Serves as a cost-efficient way to resolve disputes vs. that of a due process hearing
• Provides a less stressful informal mechanism for resolving disputes