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Special Education Tip-of-the-Day: Facilitated IEP Meeting

Accessibility, Education

By Jessica Jansepar Ross, Attorney

The Facilitated IEP (FIEP) is an informal method for resolving disputes with your child’s IEP team and developing an IEP that is reasonably calculated to provide your child with a Free and Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). In today’s blog, we will review what an FIEP is, how and when to request it, and identify other resources for understanding the process.

The FIEP is a free service provided by the Arizona Department of Education (ADE) where a trained facilitator runs the IEP meeting to help keep the IEP team focused on the child’s educational needs. The facilitator serves as a neutral, independent participant. This person is not an IEP team member and does not make decisions for the child. They work to help resolve conflicts and communication issues within the IEP team and develop an IEP for the child.

According to ADE, generally the facilitator does not participate in follow up meetings (though ADE may grant requests for a second facilitated IEP meeting on a case-by-case basis). The agency hopes that team members will learn from the communication techniques and methods applied in the FIEP and be able to continue using those skills in future meetings. The ADE recommends setting aside three hours for the meeting.

Preparing for an FIEP

Overall, an FIEP is very similar to a regular IEP meeting, except that a neutral party will run the meeting rather than a school staff person. However, an important difference is that, in advance of the meeting, the facilitator will contact the parent and the school to identify issues and topics to be discussed at the meeting. Based on this information, they will develop the meeting agenda.

To prepare for your conversation with the facilitator and the FIEP, you should:

  • Brainstorm the issues that you would like to discuss at the meeting. It can be helpful to create a checklist of issues or a timeline of events for yourself that will help you keep track during your conversation and the meeting.
  • Identify any documents, such as an evaluation from your child’s private provider, that you’d like to share with the IEP team.
  • Identify any people that have particularized knowledge about your child, such as a grandparent or a service provider, that you plan to bring with you to the meeting.

Requesting an FIEP

An FIEP can be requested at any time. Either you or the school district/charter school can request a FIEP. Parents can submit a IEP Facilitation Request Form here. In order for ADE to grant the request, both parties have to agree to participate. Once ADE receives your request, it will contact the school district to confirm whether it is willing to participate.

A FIEP is an informal method of resolving disputes between you and the school district. Choosing to participate in an FIEP does not extend deadlines—such as your deadline for filing a due process complaint or the school district’s deadline for holding an annual IEP meeting.

To learn more about the FIEP process, view the ADE’s Frequently Asked Questions document.

Next Tip-of-the-Day: Mediation (Part 1)

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