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RULE §89.1197State Individualized Education Program Facilitation

(a) In accordance with the Texas Education Code, §29.020, the Texas Education Agency (TEA) will establish a program that provides independent individualized education program (IEP) facilitators beginning with the 2014-2015 school year.

(b) For the purpose of this section, IEP facilitation has the same general meaning as described in §89.1196(a) of this title (relating to Individualized Education Program Facilitation), except that state IEP facilitation is used when the admission, review, and dismissal (ARD) committee is in dispute about decisions relating to the provision of a free and appropriate public education to a student with a disability and the facilitator is an independent facilitator provided by the TEA.

(c) A request for IEP facilitation under this section must be filed by completing a form developed by the TEA that is available upon request from the TEA and on the TEA website. The form must be filed with the TEA by one of the parties by electronic mail, mail, hand-delivery, or facsimile.

(d) IEP facilitation under this section must be voluntary on the part of the parties and provided at no cost to the parties.

(e) In order for the TEA to provide an independent facilitator, the following conditions must be met.

  (1) The required form must be completed and signed by both parties.

  (2) The dispute must relate to an ARD committee meeting in which mutual agreement about one or more of the required elements of the IEP was not reached and the parties have agreed to recess and reconvene the meeting in accordance with §89.1050(g) of this title (relating to The Admission, Review, and Dismissal Committee).

  (3) The request for IEP facilitation must have been filed within 10 calendar days of the ARD committee meeting that ended in disagreement, and a facilitator must be available on the date set for reconvening the meeting.

  (4) The dispute must not relate to a manifestation determination or determination of interim alternative educational setting under 34 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), §300.530 or §300.531.

  (5) The same parties must not be concurrently involved in special education mediation under §89.1193 of this title (relating to Special Education Mediation).

  (6) The issues in dispute must not be the subject of a special education complaint under §89.1195 of this title (relating to Special Education Complaint Resolution) or a special education due process hearing under §89.1151 of this title (relating to Special Education Due Process Hearings) and §89.1165 of this title (relating to Request for Special Education Due Process Hearing).

  (7) The same parties must not have participated in IEP facilitation concerning the same student under this section within the same school year of the filing of the current request for IEP facilitation.

(f) Within five business days of receipt of a request for an IEP facilitation under this section, the TEA will determine whether the conditions in subsections (c)-(e) of this section have been met and will notify the parties of its determination and the assignment of the independent facilitator, if applicable.

(g) Notwithstanding subsections (b)-(e) of this section, if a special education due process hearing or complaint decision requires a public education agency to provide an independent facilitator to assist with an ARD committee meeting, the public education agency may request that the TEA assign an independent facilitator. Within five business days of receipt of a written request for IEP facilitation under this subsection, the TEA will notify the parties of its decision to assign or not assign an independent facilitator. If TEA declines the request to assign an independent facilitator, the public education agency must provide an independent facilitator at its own expense.

(h) The TEA's decision not to provide an independent facilitator is final and not subject to review or appeal.

(i) The independent facilitator assignment may be made based on a combination of factors, including, but not limited to, geographic location and availability. Once assigned, the independent facilitator must promptly contact the parties to clarify the issues, gather necessary information, and explain the IEP facilitation process.

(j) The TEA will use a competitive solicitation method to seek independent facilitation services, and the contracts with independent facilitators will be developed and managed in accordance with the TEA's contracting practices and procedures.

(k) At a minimum, an individual who serves as an independent facilitator under this section:

  (1) must have demonstrated knowledge of federal and state requirements relating to the provision of special education and related services to students with disabilities;

  (2) must have demonstrated knowledge of and experience with the ARD committee meeting process;

  (3) must have completed 18 hours or more of training in IEP facilitation, consensus building, and/or conflict resolution as specified in the TEA's competitive solicitation;

  (4) must complete continuing education as determined by the TEA;

  (5) may not be an employee of the TEA or the public education agency that the student attends; and

  (6) may not have a personal or professional interest that conflicts with his or her impartiality.

(l) An individual is not an employee of the TEA solely because the individual is paid by the TEA to serve as an independent facilitator.

(m) An independent facilitator must not be a member of the student's ARD committee, must not have any decision-making authority, and must remain impartial to the topics under discussion. The independent facilitator must assist with the overall organization and conduct of the ARD committee meeting by:

  (1) assisting the committee in establishing an agenda and setting the time allotted for the meeting;

  (2) assisting the committee in establishing a set of guidelines for the meeting;

  (3) guiding the discussion and keeping the focus on developing a mutually agreed upon IEP for the student;

  (4) ensuring that each committee member has an opportunity to participate;

  (5) helping to resolve disagreements that arise; and

  (6) helping to keep the ARD committee on task so that the meeting purposes can be accomplished within the time allotted for the meeting.

(n) An independent facilitator must protect the confidentiality of personally identifiable information about the student and comply with the requirements in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act regulations, 34 CFR, Part 99, relating to the disclosure and redisclosure of personally identifiable information from a student's education record.

(o) The TEA will develop surveys to evaluate the IEP facilitation program and the independent facilitators and will request that parties who participate in the program complete the surveys.

Source Note: The provisions of this §89.1197 adopted to be effective December 31, 2013, 38 TexReg 9552; amended to be effective January 1, 2015, 39 TexReg 10446; amended to be effective March 14, 2021, 46 TexReg 1466

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