When Conflict Arises What Steps Can You Take?
Conflict, according to Merriam Webster, is a competitive or opposing action of incompatibles: antagonistic state or action (as of divergent ideas, interests, or persons). I am sure some of us have been at an IEP meeting with small conflicts, while at other meetings there has been a LOT of conflict. Some of my IEP meetings were filled with conflict (you could have cut it with a knife), and it was an unnerving feeling which left me overwhelmed and isolated as a parent! It’s almost inevitable as you want the “best” for your child but the school only needs to provide a Free Appropriate Public Education to your child. It’s easy to recognize the conflict but what do parents do when the conflicts aren’t being resolved and your child is the one who is feeling the impact of that conflict or worse, is not making progress?
Resolutions Parents Can Utilize and first steps
Conflict resolutions run the gamut and may depend on how intense the conflict is. There is a continuum of resolutions parents can utilize. These are several which are your rights and are not specified in the Procedural Safeguards. Parents can retain an advocate as a first effort to resolve the conflict, which might be enough to bring new eyes to the table to assist parents (An advocate is more familiar with the IEP process as well as being more objective; they can also be a barrier for parents). Parents can also hire an attorney, and with this, most times the district will counter with an ESE superintendent or the district’s attorney at the IEP meeting.
Request A Facilitated IEP Meeting
Parents can also request a Facilitated IEP Meeting with an impartial third-party facilitator who is a “negotiator” between parents and the school district. The facilitator will provide an agenda and try to keep the meeting focused on issues to be discussed and resolved before moving on to the next point on the agenda.
Write a State Complaint
If the above mentioned interventions don’t work, then parents can employ use the resolutions in the Procedural Safeguards. A state complaint can be written, outlining and documenting the school/districts’ violation of Part B, its regulations, or state requirements to provide a free appropriate public education (FAPE) to your child. Parents will also be asked for what they think a fair resolution would be so I suggest parents are mindful of what they would like as the outcome(s).
(Continued on page 2)