FIEP for FAPE. What’s That?

The Dispute Resolution Unit at the Arizona De­partment of Education (ADE) will be doing some travelling this fall. Early Dispute Resolution Spe­cialists Amy Dill and Jeff Studer will be provid­ing facilitated individualized education program (IEP) trainings at seven school districts in an effort to improve outcomes for IEP teams and the students they serve.

IEP facilitation is a stu­dent-focused process in which a trained individual (facilitator) assists the IEP team to devel­op an IEP that provides a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to the student.

The two-day trainings will incorporate three components needed to facilitate a success­ful IEP meeting: standardized meeting practices, knowledge of the IEP process, and the use of meeting man­agement skills that aid in minimizing conflict and maximizing collaboration.

Dill stated, “Through my experience as a com­plaint investigator for ADE, and more personally, as the parent of a teen with autism, I know how easy it can be for a parent to feel as though they have not been heard at an IEP meeting.” She con­tinued, “I’m convinced that many of the disputes I have assisted with have been caused by the team’s inability to effectively communicate with one an­other.”

Using their past ex­perience Studer, whose background is in behavioral health, and Dill include tech­niques for schools to involve parents in the IEP process and to recognize opportuni­ties for providing them with additional resources and training.

Similar to the state’s current Mediation System, facilitated IEPs will be avail­able via parent or school re­quest by the 2015-2016 school year.

Although the trainings are scheduled outside of Maricopa County, spring may bring trainings to the state’s most populous county. School per­sonnel can register to attend any of the currently scheduled trainings by contacting the Arizona De­partment of Education Dispute Resolution Unit at (855) 383-9801.

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