Differences between IEP facilitation and mediation

It is very important to pick the correct process that matches the needs, issues, goals and time requirements of the parties.

The goal of IEP facilitation is conflict prevention and specifically assisting the parties in developing or revising an IEP.  It is important for school districts and families to schedule the IEP facilitation early in their working relationship before roadblocks or impasses have occurred.

In facilitation, there is a time limit of three hours for the facilitator to spend with the IEP team.  If parties anticipate that more time will be needed then they should request mediation.

The facilitated IEP process agenda can be determined by statutory requirements for the IEP.  Team members can add agenda items too.  The parties stay together during the session.  There is no confidentiality law with regards to IEP facilitations.

The goal of mediation is much broader and can deal not only with the educational issues, but also with underlying interests and emotions.  The goal is conflict resolution – meaning that the conflict is already occurring, the parties may have reached impasse, and there is a need for intervention because communication is already difficult.

There is no specific time limit in mediation – although the average is usually one meeting for four hours.

There is no state law requirement for the agenda of the meeting so there is a great deal of creativity and participants can add items during the process at any point.  Mostly the parties meet together, and sometimes separately with the mediator to help move the process forward.

In mediation, there is a specific confidentiality statute that applies to the process.  Please contact our office for further information or questions.

In both processes, the professional neutral keeps the focus on the student, manages group dynamics, validates the common interests, keeps the momentum flowing towards consensus, helps look forward, models good communication skills, and helps the students have a voice.

Please see our WSEMS video in which Jane Burns, a former System Administrator/Mediation Partner and Nina Meierding, Former Mediation Partner, discuss the differences and similarities of IEP facilitation and mediation in order to help you select the most appropriate process for your situation.  The video is located at