Thursday, July 15, 2021

IEP Meeting Facilitator

It is really hard to be an IEP meeting facilitator because you are juggling many different hats. You are the liaison between administrators, educators, and parents. You are the leader who needs to keep everyone following the meeting agenda. You are also the peacemaker during conflicts.

Recently on one of my discussion boards, this question was asked:

“I am preparing for a job interview as an IEP meeting facilitator in my building. What would be the best way to respond to the question, how would you handle when a member of an IEP team disagrees with placement or eligibility?”

Here is what I responded:

“In response to how I would handle a situation when a member of an IEP team disagrees with placement or eligibility, I would do the following:
  • Listen to why the team member disagrees.
  • Consider their concerns.
  • Offer possible answers to their concerns.
  • If further information or consideration is needed to make an informed decision, ask that the meeting be reconvened at a later time to address these concerns.”
Further discussion brought other responses such as

“I have often dealt with this question. On my team we take the time to discuss the eligibility and the placement prior to the meeting. On our agenda we have a goal to meet at a Special Ed team up to 10 days prior to the meeting. As you know you have 45 days to meet with the parents therefore on my team we set a goal to have testing finished in 35 days. This way if there is any disagreement we can discuss it and make sure the team is clear on the recommendations. Be sure that the decision for the recommendation is based on the data of the testing, observations, teacher and parent input.”

As a response to the above comments, someone stated, “I know that a lot of teams will have 'the meeting before the meeting', but I would be very careful about discussing placement before an IEP is written because we cannot pre-determine placement. That is the last piece. After the IEP is agreed upon, the team must determine LRE. Be careful about documenting pre-determinations as that could get you into some legal issues.”

I also felt the need to respond because I feel that parent involvement is vital to helping the student be successful in whatever placement is decided. It is easy to fall into ways that seem easier for the educators but is really not appropriate no matter how much easier it is.

Remember that parents are part of the IEP team. Any discussions about placement or eligibility need to involve them in order to make the best decision for the student. The law clearly states that parents have the right to participate in meetings related to the evaluation, identification, and educational placement of their child.

By not including parents in the discussion and then having a meeting where it is apparent that the educators have already made a decision will only make parents and educators adversaries instead of team players. All discussions need to be transparent and all team members, of which parents are a part, need to be included in the discussion.

Photo by Redd on Unsplash

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