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Lessons Learned: Pennsylvania’s Sometimes Rocky Entrance into IEP Facilitation Kerry Voss Smith Dixie Rider.

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Presentation on theme: "Lessons Learned: Pennsylvania’s Sometimes Rocky Entrance into IEP Facilitation Kerry Voss Smith Dixie Rider."— Presentation transcript:

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2 Lessons Learned: Pennsylvania’s Sometimes Rocky Entrance into IEP Facilitation Kerry Voss Smith Dixie Rider

3 Pennsylvania: Who Are We? Lancaster PhiladelphiaGettysburg Pittsburgh

4 The Litigious State P-ARC Consent Gaskin More than 250,000 identified school-age children 1036 Due Process Requests

5 Pennsylvania (agencies?): Who Are We? PA Department of EducationPA Department of Education Bureau of Special EducationBureau of Special Education PA Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN)PA Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) Intermediate UnitsIntermediate Units Local Education AgenciesLocal Education Agencies Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR)Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR)

6 Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) Who Are We? ConsultLineConsultLine Call Resolution Process (CRP)Call Resolution Process (CRP) Dispute Resolution Skills Training (DRST)Dispute Resolution Skills Training (DRST) IEP FacilitationIEP Facilitation Solutions Panels/TeamsSolutions Panels/Teams MediationMediation Due ProcessDue Process AppealsAppeals IEP Facilitation Mediation Dispute Resolution Skills Training Due Process Hearing Office for Dispute Resolution ODR

7 ODR: Who Are We? Tracking – database Website Focus Group Advisory Panel Continuum

8 IEP Facilitation – Pilot ODR was a recipient of the OSEP General Supervision Enhancement Grant (GSEG).ODR was a recipient of the OSEP General Supervision Enhancement Grant (GSEG).

9 General Supervision Enhancement Grant (GSEG) Activities to support and encourage early resolution of special education disagreementsActivities to support and encourage early resolution of special education disagreements 18 IEP Facilitations (8/03- 10/04)18 IEP Facilitations (8/03- 10/04)

10 IEP Facilitation – Pilot (GSEG) ODR contracted with an Independent educational consultant with extensive knowledge and experience in special education law, IEP content and development, & facilitation.

11 Independent Educational Consultant Advice for Pilot (GSEG) Several authorization forms required.Several authorization forms required. Required release of educational records 2 weeks prior to IEP meeting.Required release of educational records 2 weeks prior to IEP meeting. Facilitator have reviewed most recent ER/IEP.Facilitator have reviewed most recent ER/IEP. Extensive and ongoing communication between Facilitator and all parties in advance is required.Extensive and ongoing communication between Facilitator and all parties in advance is required.

12 IEP Facilitation – Pilot Original Conditions Directive method of FacilitationDirective method of Facilitation Meeting belonged to the FacilitatorMeeting belonged to the Facilitator Role of Facilitator included providing technical assistanceRole of Facilitator included providing technical assistance Facilitator directed the crafting of the IEPFacilitator directed the crafting of the IEP Completed IEP only goal – settle for nothing lessCompleted IEP only goal – settle for nothing less

13 ODR Marched On Expanded training to ODR mediators to increase pool of Facilitators.Expanded training to ODR mediators to increase pool of Facilitators. Used PaTTAN Educational Consultants/PEN to bring special education expertise.Used PaTTAN Educational Consultants/PEN to bring special education expertise. Review ER – what should it look like?Review ER – what should it look like? Review IEP – what should it look like?Review IEP – what should it look like? Overview content areas of autism/discipline/ reading/progress monitoring.Overview content areas of autism/discipline/ reading/progress monitoring.

14 Pilot – “Pros” Upfront communication kept arguing sides apart – little interaction until meeting.Upfront communication kept arguing sides apart – little interaction until meeting. IEP almost always constructed (many times after several meetings).IEP almost always constructed (many times after several meetings). Students possibly now receiving more than “FAPE” -‘best’ instead of ‘appropriate’.Students possibly now receiving more than “FAPE” -‘best’ instead of ‘appropriate’. Parents felt Facilitator was on their side.Parents felt Facilitator was on their side.

15 Pilot – “Cons” LEA felt loss of control of IEP meeting. Parent groups felt loss of control of IEP content. Issue of confidentiality – student records Expensive!! Much preparation time before meeting. Expensive!! Several IEP meetings needed to finalize IEP.

16 Pilot – “Cons” Time-consuming Students possibly now receiving more than “FAPE” -‘best’ instead of ‘appropriate’. All parties (& Facilitator) “digging in their heels” for own outcomes

17 Murphy’s Law 101

18 Pilot – Bottom Line Results Discovered that mediation skills and facilitation skills are NOT the same.Discovered that mediation skills and facilitation skills are NOT the same. LEAs hated it.LEAs hated it. Parent groups hated it.Parent groups hated it. Grant money ran out.Grant money ran out.

19 ODR Reaction Shell-shockedShell-shocked HumbledHumbled Decided to punt and rethink!Decided to punt and rethink!

20 Did we give up? NO WAY!!

21 Questions We Asked Overall question: What changes do we need to make to have parties “buy into” the process?Overall question: What changes do we need to make to have parties “buy into” the process?

22 Questions We Asked Who should facilitate?Who should facilitate? –Mediators –Lawyers –Hearing Officers

23 Questions We Asked What training is necessary?What training is necessary? –Mediation training –Special education content –Facilitation

24 Questions We Asked What model will work best for PA?What model will work best for PA? – Facilitator runs meeting, with agenda. – Facilitator provides guidance on content. – Facilitator provides assistance with communication only.

25 Questions We Asked What procedures will be put in place?What procedures will be put in place? –Contact parties/communicate prior to meeting. –Release educational records to facilitator. –Required authorization and consent forms.

26 What Happened Next? Met with PEN.Met with PEN. Carefully/thoughtfully drafted new procedures.Carefully/thoughtfully drafted new procedures. Brought in national trainers to provide Facilitation training.Brought in national trainers to provide Facilitation training. –Wanted all Facilitators to be trained together. –Wanted all Facilitators to understand ODR procedures together. –Smooth sailing????? Not quite.

27 What We Learned There are many different philosophiesThere are many different philosophies regarding IEP Facilitation

28 Revised Role of Facilitator Facilitative method onlyFacilitative method only Not a member of the teamNot a member of the team IEP team owns the IEPIEP team owns the IEP LEA runs the meetingLEA runs the meeting Facilitator’s role is only to enhance communication and to help sides address disagreements or conflict relating to IEP only.Facilitator’s role is only to enhance communication and to help sides address disagreements or conflict relating to IEP only. Facilitator offers no technical assistance or input regarding content.Facilitator offers no technical assistance or input regarding content. Facilitator sits in silence if parties are moving forward.Facilitator sits in silence if parties are moving forward.

29 Role of Facilitator An IEP Facilitator is like a referee… If the game is going well, there is not much need for interference. But if the players start to get out of hand, the referee’s responsibility is to get more involved to ensure fair play and to keep the game moving.

30 IEP Facilitation Materials Thanks to CADRE for offering materials for use in the spirit of dispute resolution!Thanks to CADRE for offering materials for use in the spirit of dispute resolution! –IEP Facilitation Information and Procedures –IEP Facilitation Request Form –IEP Facilitation Evaluation Form

31 ODR Procedures ODR Procedures IEP team sets date for meeting, and provides invitation to participate to parents.IEP team sets date for meeting, and provides invitation to participate to parents. If IEP Facilitation requested, form is signed and forwarded to other party to complete, sign, and forward to ODR. IEP Facilitation Mediation Dispute Resolution Skills Training Due Process Hearing Office for Dispute Resolution ODR

32 ODR Procedures ODR Procedures Facilitator assigned only after both parties sign request form.Facilitator assigned only after both parties sign request form. ODR oversees process, but ownership is local. IEP Facilitation Mediation Dispute Resolution Skills Training Due Process Hearing Office for Dispute Resolution ODR

33 At the IEP Meeting IEP meeting is scheduled by LEA.IEP meeting is scheduled by LEA. Members of the IEP team attend.Members of the IEP team attend. The LEA chair starts the meeting.The LEA chair starts the meeting. Facilitator is introduced.Facilitator is introduced.

34 Facilitator Discusses/Clarifies NeutralityNeutrality Parameters of role (not a decision-maker, not here as a special education expert)Parameters of role (not a decision-maker, not here as a special education expert) Chair’s roleChair’s role ConfidentialityConfidentiality Logistics (length of time scheduled, order of discussion, team members leaving or staying, etc)Logistics (length of time scheduled, order of discussion, team members leaving or staying, etc) Agenda that the team has establishedAgenda that the team has established Ground rules parties want to have in placeGround rules parties want to have in place

35 IEP Meeting and Beyond LEA chair continues with IEP meeting.LEA chair continues with IEP meeting. Facilitator intervenes when necessary.Facilitator intervenes when necessary. Expectation is that IEP Facilitator will participate in 1 team meeting only unless extreme situation.Expectation is that IEP Facilitator will participate in 1 team meeting only unless extreme situation. Facilitator reports the general results of the IEP meeting to ODR.Facilitator reports the general results of the IEP meeting to ODR. ODR does not keep IEPs/documents on file.ODR does not keep IEPs/documents on file.

36 Reactions from Facilitators Vast difference of opinion as to how much prep work, intervening, participation needed for success.Vast difference of opinion as to how much prep work, intervening, participation needed for success.

37 Reactions from Facilitators Some parents view the Facilitator as an advocate and are looking for help in writing the IEP. Some parents view the Facilitator as an advocate and are looking for help in writing the IEP.

38 Reactions from Facilitators Difficult for some Facilitators to step back after having been heavily involved based on pilot’s procedures.Difficult for some Facilitators to step back after having been heavily involved based on pilot’s procedures.

39 Reactions from Facilitators Some Facilitators have admitted they can not facilitate using such a “hands off” approach.Some Facilitators have admitted they can not facilitate using such a “hands off” approach.

40 Reactions from Facilitators Very important to clarify the role of Facilitator to all parties; otherwise expectations might not be met.Very important to clarify the role of Facilitator to all parties; otherwise expectations might not be met.

41 Reactions from Facilitators In some instances mediation might be an option to resolve disagreements not related to the IEP. In some instances mediation might be an option to resolve disagreements not related to the IEP.

42 Reactions from Facilitators Having documents ahead of time gives the facilitator a complete picture of the student and it saves valuable time at the meeting. Having documents ahead of time gives the facilitator a complete picture of the student and it saves valuable time at the meeting.

43 Reactions from Participants Facilitator was knowledgeable but strengths could be better utilized by being more involved.

44 Reactions from Participants Having the Facilitator at the meeting helped the meeting to be less heated.

45 Reactions from Participants The presence of the Facilitator alone kept everyone on their best behavior.

46 Reactions from Participants Please get the word out to parents– this is a great program that is available.

47 Reactions from Participants Everyone at the table was happy with the IEP that was developed.

48 Reactions from Participants As a parent, I feel it is necessary that the Facilitator has my child’s documents before the meeting.

49 Reactions from Participants The Facilitator’s sense of humor and quick grasp of the facts helped the IEP process immensely.

50 Reactions from Participants We went to mediation, then to IEP Facilitation, and did end up in due process. But by the time we got to due process, there were only a few issues that were unresolved. We were very satisfied with each process.

51 Reactions from Participants The Facilitator was invisible during the meeting except when a problem arose.

52 Where Are We Now? For , ODR received 37 IEP Facilitation requests.For , ODR received 37 IEP Facilitation requests. 24 IEP Facilitations resulted in an agreed-upon IEP (86%) when meeting held.24 IEP Facilitations resulted in an agreed-upon IEP (86%) when meeting held. 5 were withdrawn prior to the IEP meeting.5 were withdrawn prior to the IEP meeting. 4 denied by either parent or LEA.4 denied by either parent or LEA. 4 did not result in IEP.4 did not result in IEP.

53 IEP Facilitation What’s Next for ODR? Public awareness blitzPublic awareness blitz Expanded trainingExpanded training

54 Public Awareness Blitz WebsiteWebsite PennLinkPennLink Special Education Dispute Resolution ManualSpecial Education Dispute Resolution Manual ODR bookmarkODR bookmark BrochureBrochure

55 Public Awareness Blitz BSE Compliance Advisors (SPOCs)BSE Compliance Advisors (SPOCs) Parent Education Network (PEN)Parent Education Network (PEN) Speaking EngagementsSpeaking Engagements Conference Attendance/Exhibit BoothsConference Attendance/Exhibit Booths

56 Expanded Training Expanded trainingExpanded training Continue to train mediators to update skillsContinue to train mediators to update skills Develop new training to assist LEAs with required Resolution MeetingDevelop new training to assist LEAs with required Resolution Meeting –Possibly offering Facilitation for Resolution Meetings

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58 Lessons Learned: Pennsylvania’s Sometimes Rocky Entrance into IEP Facilitation Contact us at… ODR 6340 Flank Drive, Suite 600 Harrisburg, PA (717)


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