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Resolving Disagreements

It’s a fact that parents, teachers and other required members of the IEP Team will not always agree about the needs of a student or appropriateness of goals/services that should be included in the IEP. The good news: There are tools and resources available to you that have been designed to help the team resolve disagreement and move forward.

When difficulties arise begin with the person or process that is closest to the issue. Try to resolve the problem early by discussing your concerns or requests with:

  • Your child’s teacher or other school professional
  • The IEP Team
  • Your child’s Principal
  • The Special Education Director in your school district

Always follow up your conversations in writing to the person you spoke with. Include what you feel the problem or violation is, what you discussed, what you requested in the way of resolution, and the results of the conversation. Be sure to include any agreements or promises made. Don’t forget to thank the person for their time and always keep a copy of the letter for your records.

Whenever possible, work to build positive relationships while at the same time resolving disagreements.  Remember, you are your child’s best and most effective advocate!

Informal resources:

  • Questions that Can Help

Facilitated IEP Meetings – IEP Facilitation is an optional, informal process of dispute resolution, not required by the IDEA. When parents or school representatives are apprehensive about the next IEP meeting, or it is a complex meeting with numerous participants, or communication between home and school is becoming tense, an impartial facilitator can be requested to assist the IEP team members in communicating more effectively, keeping the focus on student outcomes, and developing compliant IEPs. Facilitation is a free dispute resolution option for families.

Formal processes:

Additional Resource:

  • Consortium for Alternate Dispute Resolution (CADRE)

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For individual assistance, call an ECAC Parent Educator at

More info can be found on the NC Department of Public Instruction website or through CADRE (the Consortium for Dispute Resolution in Special Education).

The contents of this website were developed under a grant from the US Department of Education, #H328M140025.  However, those contents do not necessarily represent the policy of the US Department of Education, and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government. Project Officer, Julia Martin Eile.

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