IEP Facilitation Program to be Added to Alternative Dispute Resolution Tools

The Maine Department of Education is currently seeking prospective, impartial individuals to be assigned to facilitate IEP (Individualized Education Plan) meetings. Facilitators are assigned to cases on a rotating basis, where there is no conflict of interest. These individuals are neither members of the IEP team, nor involved in the determinations of a meeting. In mid-December, facilitators will participate in training provided by the Department.

In early 2022, interested parties (parents/care givers and school administrative units) will be able to make a request for an IEP Facilitator. Both parties need to agree to the facilitation. Forms and handbooks will be made available soon.

The implementation of the Facilitated IEP meeting (FIEP) program allows the Maine Department of Education to provide another cost-free mechanism for stakeholders to utilize in the effective dispute resolution process. In states that offer Facilitated IEP meetings, data suggests that there is a positive impact on IEP team member communication, and  increased levels of trust and collaboration  among stakeholders (Mueller and Vick, 2019).

During a typical IEP meeting, even with the best of intentions, breakdowns in communication and disagreements may occur among participants. During a facilitated IEP meeting, the focus is on conflict resolution in place of contentious debate and discussion. Meetings are kept on track to ensure equal opportunity for input by all participants. Determinations and outcomes are more child focused. Districts are responsible for following MUSER regulations and IDEA as is the case for any IEP meeting.

For more information about the facilitator qualifications and application process, please contact: 

Leigh Lardieri, PhD
Dispute Resolution Coordinator, Office of Special Services
Maine Department of Education
(207) 624-6849
Leigh.Lardieri@maine.gov