Effective Dispute Resolution: IEP Facilitation Program Available to Parents and SAUs at No Cost

The implementation of the Facilitated IEP (FIEP) meeting program allows the Maine Department of Education to provide another cost-free mechanism for stakeholders to utilize in the effective dispute resolution process. A facilitated IEP meeting is one where an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is developed by a collaborative team whose members share responsibility for the meeting process and results, and where decision-making is managed using facilitation skills.  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.

The Maine Department of Education has contracted with six impartial individuals to be assigned to facilitate IEP 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.

During a facilitated IEP meeting, the facilitator assists the team in keeping the focus on conflict resolution in place of contentious debate and discussion. Meetings are kept on track to ensure equal opportunity for input by all participants and determinations and outcomes are child focused. Districts are responsible for following MUSER regulations and IDEA as is the case for any IEP meeting.

Interested parties (parents/care givers and School Administrative Units) can make a request for an IEP Facilitator. Both parties need to agree to the facilitation. IEP facilitation is provided at no cost to parents and SAUs. Forms and handbooks are available by calling or emailing the Dispute Resolution Office or here: Effective Dispute Resolution.

For more information, contact the Dispute Resolution Office at 207-624-6644 or dueprocess.doe@maine.gov.