Facilitated Team Meetings

What is a Facilitated Team Meeting?

If you and the school are having trouble writing your child’s special education plan, a neutral third person, a facilitator, will work through the process with your child’s individualized education program (IEP), individualized family service plan (IFSP), or multi-agency team and help solve any disagreements along the way.

The facilitator leads a team meeting to promote effective communication and assist a team in developing an IEP. The facilitator helps to keep members of the team focused on the student while addressing conflicts and disagreements that may arise during the meeting. Due to the current health crisis, we are providing our facilitation services through video conference meetings or telephone conference.

What is the Difference between a Mediation and Facilitated Team Meeting?

  • Mediation - Mediation seeks to build positive working relationships, encourages mutual understanding, and helps the parties focus on their common interest–the student. An impartial mediator works with the participants to help them clearly communicate concerns, find common ground, and explore possible solutions to reach their own mutually agreeable resolution. Mediators help parties craft a formal agreement that is legally binding on the parties and can be used to amend an individualized education program.
  • Facilitated team meetings - An impartial facilitator leads an IEP, Individual Family Service Plan (IFSP), or multi-agency team meeting to promote effective communication and assist a team in developing an individualized education program.
Which Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Process Best Fits Your Student's Situation?

Where Should You Start?

Prepare Yourself

The process is easier if you do some preparation ahead of time.
  • Organize your child’s documents (IEP/IFSP, evaluation report, progress reports, etc.)
  • Define the problem(s) as you see them.
  • Prioritize your issues.
  • Think about practical solutions. 

Talk to an Advocate

Advocates are trained in special education processes. They can help families solve problems and understand what to expect in each process.

Talk to Your District

Some problems can be quickly resolved at the school your child attends.
  • Talk to your district’s special education director about your concerns.
  • Request a team meeting to talk about your concerns and develop ideas.
  • If you disagree with a proposed education program and request a conciliation conference, the district must hold the meeting with you within 10 days of your request to discuss concerns about your child’s education program.

What if You Still Have Concerns?

Talk to the Minnesota Department of Education

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) provides special education facilitation services, free of charge. Download and complete a Request for Facilitated Team Meeting form and return it to us.

Who Participates in a Facilitated Team Meeting?

The entire IEP team participates in the facilitated team meeting. The facilitator is present but not as a member of the team. The same requirements for attendance at an IEP meeting apply when the parties are attending a facilitated IEP meeting. We recommend that a parent advocate participates, as well.

What is the Facilitator’s Role?

The facilitator is impartial and does not make decisions or provide legal advice.

The facilitator models and helps maintain open and respectful communication among team members as well as offering ways to address and resolve conflicts that may arise in the meeting. The facilitator keeps the IEP team focused the student’s needs while developing or revising an IEP.

How Long Does the Facilitated Team Meeting Process Take?

Once MDE receives a completed request form, the process takes approximately three weeks to complete. If agreement on the IEP is reached, the district will propose a new IEP based on the agreements reached at the facilitated meeting.


The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE) provides a series of videos designed to support effective collaboration between parents, schools and early childhood programs. View CADRE’s Working Together webpage to see the videos.

PACER Center has created A Guide for Minnesota Parents to the Individualized Education Program to help parents work with schools to address each child's special needs through understanding the required components of the IEP.
  • Request for Facilitated Team Meeting Form - 9/19/18
    To request a facilitated education planning meeting, complete this form electronically and return to MDE as directed.
  •  - 8/23/18
    Suggestions of steps to take before facilitated planning meeting and a brief overview of the meeting process.
  •  - 9/22/16
    Frequently asked questions about the facilitated education planning process.