IEP Meeting Facilitation

In 1998, two directors of special education, Doug and Joyce Little, retired and started a consulting company working with district and state education agencies.  They looked back on their experiences of a lifetime in special education at the local, state, and federal levels, and realized that the greatest problems they dealt with around issues of conflict between staff and parents, and that this conflict seemed to have its genesis at the IEP meeting level.  

Joyce and Doug set out to find a process or a program to address this issue, with the goal being to develop a way to conduct IEP meetings that was truly in keeping with the spirit and content of IDEA, with IEP team members communicating and collaborating in a thoughtful and effective manner.  They wanted to find a way for IEP teams to collaborate in order to develop the best possible IEP to meet the needs of the child.

Their research led them to an organization in San Francisco, Interaction Associates, the developer of the concept of facilitation for business meetings.  Joyce and Doug adapted the process of facilitation to meet the concerns and constraints of IEP meetings.  They also utilized the work of the Harvard Negotiations Project to address the need to train IEP team members in conflict prevention and resolution.  Thus training in Facilitation for IEP team meetings was born.  

Key2Ed has successfully trained thousands of facilitators across the nation.  In 2001, the US Department of Education recognized IEP meeting facilitation as a best practice for conducting IEP meetings. CADRE, a federally funded special education dispute resolution think tank, recognizes Key2Ed as one of the leading authorities on IEP meeting facilitation. Key2Ed works with several state departments of education providing IEP facilitation training at the state level for dispute resolution. Key2Ed also works with hundreds of local school districts in training administrators, staff, and teachers as IEP meeting facilitators, with the goal of team collaboration and conflict prevention.

 Facilitation Model

What is a Facilitated IEP Meeting?

A Facilitated Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting is one in which:

  • An IEP is developed by a collaborative team whose members share responsibility for the meeting process and results
  • Decision-making is managed through the use of facilitation skills

This process of Facilitation for IEP meetings enables the team to:

  • Build and improve strong relationships among team members
  • Reach true consensus
  • Focus the IEP content and process on the needs of the student
  • Exercise an efficient, guided meeting process where effective communication and reflective listening are practiced

About the Key2Ed method of IEP Facilitation

Key2Ed’s method of IEP Facilitation promotes shared understanding and shared responsibility among the team members by linking a collaborative attitude, strategic planning and thinking, and facilitative behaviors that are the specific tools and techniques taught in the Key2Ed workshops.

Where these concepts come together the team finds shared responsibility and shared understanding.


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