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Special Education Mediation (updated December 2002)

My child's school and I have some disagreements about his special education program. Do I have any options for resolving this dispute other than a due process hearing?

When Congress reauthorized the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in 1997, it included the requirement that states make mediation available whenever a due process hearing has been requested. Mediation is a voluntary form of dispute resolution that offers an alternative to due process hearings in special education. It is less costly, tends not to be as adversarial, and therefore is usually less damaging emotionally than a due process hearing. States bear the cost of mediation and may provide mediation even when there is no request for a due process hearing. Each state sets up its own mediation system and decides on the qualifications and training required for its mediators. These impartial professionals help participants discuss issues and come to their own agreements. If no agreement is reached, participants may still proceed with a due process hearing. (From the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)(2002). Families and Schools Resolving Disputes Through Mediation. Direction Service, PO Box 51360, Eugene, OR 97405-0906, www.directionservice.org/cadre.)

Following are selected citations from the ERIC database and the search terms we used to find the citations.


You can search the ERIC database yourself on the Internet through either of the following web sites:

ERIC Citations

The full text of citations beginning with an ED number (for example, EDxxxxxx) is available:

  • In microfiche collections worldwide; to find your nearest ERIC Resource Collection, point your web browser to: http://ericae.net/derc.htm.
  • For a fee through the ERIC Document Reproduction Service (EDRS): http://edrs.com, service@edrs.com, or 1.800.443.ERIC. (no longer available)

The full text of citations beginning with an EJ number (for example, EJxxxxxx) is available for a fee from:

ERIC Search Terms Used

special education OR disabilities!

AND

conflict resolution or mediation

ED452623 EC308380
Implementing the Mediation Requirements of IDEA '97: A Guide Developed for the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE). 2001 25pp.
Zeller, Richard W. .
Institution Name: BBB35825 _ Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE), Eugene, OR.
Sponsoring Agency: EDD00017 _ Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
CONTRACT_NO: H326D98002
Available from: Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE), PO Box 51360, Eugene, OR 97405. Tel: 541-686-5060; Fax: 541-686-5063; e-mail: mpeter@directionservice.org. For full text: http://www.directionservice.org/cadre.
EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Document Type: Administrator Guides (055); Answer Keys (160)
This document is intended to assist states in implementing the mediation requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), as amended in 1997. These provisions include parent participation in collaborative decision-making and the right of parents to challenge decisions about their child's education program. Increased use of mediation offers hope for more collaborative decision-making by parents and schools. Following an introductory section, this document presents the federal regulations concerning mediation requirements in their entirety. The following section is intended to assist states in assessing whether their systems have addressed the law's requirements by organizing the requirements for mediation under IDEA into the following related areas: (1) mediator standards, (2) mediator selection, (3) mediator process and conditions, (4) encouraging mediation, and (5) attorney participation in mediation (not Federally regulated). For each area the relevant citations from the regulations are excerpted and specific self-assessment questions are suggested. Implications for practice are also addressed. Appendices include a list of all the self-assessment questions and answers to questions concerning mediation from the Office of Special Education Programs. (DB)
Descriptors: Arbitration; Compliance (Legal); Conflict Resolution; Decision Making; Disabilities; Educational Legislation; Elementary Secondary Education; Federal Legislation; Federal Regulation; Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship
Identifiers: Individuals with Disabilities Educ Act Amend 1997

ED451644 EC308326
Mediation Plus Options To Resolve the "Real" Problems Underlying Disputes.
Beekman, Lyn 2000 44 pp.
Publication Type: Non-Classroom Material (055)
EDRS Price MF01/PC02 Plus Postage
This paper discusses alternatives to court litigation in special education disputes between schools and parents of students with disabilities. It begins by describing problems with the current hearing process and dispelling myths about alternative dispute resolutions (ADR). The advantages and disadvantages of mediation are then outlined, along with the actual mediation process. Reasons why parties refuse to utilize mediation are also addressed. Practical things to consider in mediation are listed and include: (1) consider the mediator's personality, the mediator's knowledge of the law and practice of special education, and the mediator's work experience; (2) keep the pressure on by having the hearing ready to be scheduled within a couple of weeks; (3) be sure that enough time is set aside to conduct the mediation; (4) prepare for mediation by doing some self-assessment and analyzing underlying problems; (5) consider who should participate; and (6) consider what the agreement should cover. Factors to consider before pursing nontraditional dispute resolution options are provided, along with a description of other ADR options such as facilitation, conciliation, and neutral educational evaluation. Attachments include sample agreements for a relations consultant, a trial placement, a neutral third party, mediation, and a less formal hearing process. (CR)
Descriptors: Arbitration; Conflict Resolution; Disabilities; Due Process;;
Elementary Secondary Education; Grievance Procedures; Hearings; Minimum Competencies; Negotiation Agreements Parent School Relationship; Problem Solving; Special Education; Staff Role
Identifiers: Mediation

ED456583 EC308567
Special Education Mediation: A Guide for Parents. 2001 9 p.
Publication Type: Administrator Guides (055)
AVAILABILITY: Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE), P.O. Box 51360, Eugene, OR 97405. Tel: 541-686-5060; Fax: 541-686-5063; e-mail: mpeter@directionservice.org.
EDRS_PRICE: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
INSTITUTION_NAME: BBB35825 _ Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE), Eugene, OR.
SPONSORING_AGENCY: EDD00017 _ Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
CONTRACT_NO: H326D98002
Designed for parents of students with disabilities living in Oregon, this brochure describes the general mediation process that parents can use to resolve special education services disputes with schools. It begins by discussing what mediation is and the characteristics of a trained mediator. It addresses the requirement for making mediation available to parents under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and the benefits of mediation. Some potential concerns about mediation are listed and frequently asked questions about mediation are answered. The last part of the brochure lists ways parents can prepare for mediation, including identifying the issues to discuss, making a written list, writing out any questions that need to be addressed, organizing documents, anticipating questions, considering all possible solutions, using parent resources, and asking a parent advocate for help. Comments by parents who have had successful outcomes using mediation are provided. Additional resources for more information are provided. (CR)
Descriptors: Conflict Resolution; Disabilities; Due Process; Educational Legislation; Elementary Secondary Education; Federal Legislation; Parent Education; Parent Participation; Parent School Relationship; Parent Rights; Problem Solving; Special Education
Identifiers: Amendments; Individuals with Disabilities Educ Act Amend 1997; *Mediation; Oregon

EJ514660 EA530928
Dispute Resolution in Special Education: An Introduction to Litigation Alternatives.
Goldberg, Steven S.; Huefner, Dixie Snow
West's Education Law Quarterly, v4 n3 p534-42 Jul 1995
Language: English
Document Type: POSITION PAPER (120); JOURNAL ARTICLE (080)
Journal Announcement: CIJAPR96
Reviews the advantages and disadvantages of common methods of conflict resolution used in special-education disputes. Argues that "principled negotiation" has been underutilized at the early phase of special-education disputes and shows promise as a means of settling many disputes without the need for mediation or adversarial processes.
Descriptors: *Conflict Resolution; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; *Grievance Procedures; Hearings; *Parent Participation; Public Schools; Special Education; Student Needs
Identifiers: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; Mediation; Negotiation Processes; Principled Negotiation

ED399736 EC305067
Mediation and Other Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedures in Special Education. Final Report.
Schrag, Judy A.
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA. 21 Aug 1996 41pp.; Prepared by Project FORUM.
Sponsoring Agency: Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Contract No: HS92015001
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: REVIEW LITERATURE (070); PROJECT DESCRIPTION (141)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEFEB97
Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners
This report discusses the use of mediation and alternative dispute resolution approaches in special education disagreements between the school and the parents of a child with a disability. The procedural safeguards and due process provisions of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are explained. The report notes alternative dispute resolution practices, such as negotiation, mock or mini-trials, due process hearings, and litigation. The components and procedures of mediation, and the growth in the use of mediation are discussed. Trends and variations in mediation strategies are provided, including descriptions of the single mediator model, co-mediator model, and panel mediator model. Benefits of each model are discussed. Other informal and formal alternative dispute resolution strategies that are being used in special education are reviewed, including individual strategies (ombudsperson or advocates) and group strategies (impartial reviews, pre-hearing conferences, advisory opinion process, and neutral conferences). The report also identifies locally based conflict resolution options, including: parent/professional partnerships, peer mediation programs, and staff development/training in conflict resolution. The report concludes by discussing the "lessons learned" from state and local educational agencies, and by indicating a need for ongoing evaluation information regarding the short- and long-term impact of mediation. Descriptors: Arbitration ; Compliance (Legal); *Conflict Resolution; *Disabilities; Educational Practices; Elementary Secondary Education; Models; Parent Rights; *Parent School Relationship; Program Effectiveness; Special Education; Student Rights
Identifiers: Mediation Techniques; Mediators

ED399735 EC305066
Mediation in Special Education: A Resource Manual for Mediators. Revised and Updated.
Schrag, Judy A.
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA. 1996 48pp.; Prepared by Project FORUM.
Sponsoring Agency: Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Contract No: HS92015001
EDRS Price - MF01/PC02 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL (055); TEST, QUESTIONNAIRE (160)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEFEB97
Target Audience: Administrators; Practitioners
This resource manual presents information on mediation practices in special education disagreements between the school and parents. The manual provides an overview of requirements in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and gives definitions for alternative dispute resolution processes, such as arbitration and litigation. A chart shows the differences between mediation, due process hearings, and litigation. The manual explains the benefits of mediation and the qualifications, skills, and abilities a mediator should possess. Information is provided on how to prepare for mediation and how to conduct the mediation. The different phases of the mediation are described. They include: (1) the introduction/opening statement (a sample is provided); (2) fact finding, with statements by each mediation party; (3) collaboration and discussion; (4) the caucus; and (5) reconvening the joint session. Finally, information on how to conclude the mediation is provided. Commonly asked questions about mediation are answered. Appendices include sample mediation agreements, sample evaluation forms, and rules of mediation.
Descriptors: Arbitration; Compliance (Legal); *Conflict Resolution; Definitions; *Disabilities; Educational Practices; Elementary Secondary Education; *Guidelines; Parent Rights; *Parent School Relationship; Special Education; Student Rights
Identifiers: *Mediation Techniques; Mediators

ED387990 EC304344
When Parents and Educators Do Not Agree: Using Mediation To Resolve Conflicts about Special Education. A Guidebook for Parents.
Schumack, Sharon; Stewart, Art
Harvard Univ., Cambridge, Mass. Center for Law and Education. 1995 24p.
ISBN: 0-912585-10-2
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Massachusetts
Journal Announcement: RIEMAR96
Target Audience: Parents
This booklet for parents, in question and answer format, provides basic information on the mediation process in the resolution of conflicts between parents and educators concerning special education. The first section is intended to help parents decide if mediation is the appropriate route in their situation. It addresses such topics as how mediation differs from a due process hearing, how mediation differs from other meetings with educators, why parents should consider mediation, who mediators are, avenues in addition to mediation available to the parent, the relationship of mediation to the child's individualized education program, costs of mediation, consequences if mediation does not result in a written agreement, and changing the mediation agreement. The second section is on preparing for and participating in mediation. It considers: location and time of the mediation, participants, the value of legal help, preparing for a mediation, what happens at a mediation, and decision making. The third section outlines the stages of the mediation process, illustrated by an example. A listing of mediation "do's" and "don'ts" as well as definitions for words commonly used in the mediation process complete the booklet.
Descriptors: *Arbitration; *Conflict Resolution; Decision Making; *Disabilities; Due Process; Elementary Secondary Education; Parent Participation; Parent Rights; *Parent School Relationship; *Special Education; Student Rights

ED378768 EC303667
Mediation as an Option in Special Education. Final Report.
Symington, Gloria T.
National Association of State Directors of Special Education, Alexandria, VA. 13 Jan 1995 24p.; Prepared by Project FORUM.
Sponsoring Agency: Special Education Programs (ED/OSERS), Washington, DC.
Contract No: HS92015001
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: EVALUATIVE REPORT (142)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Virginia
Journal Announcement: RIEJUN95
This synthesis paper examines the use of mediation to improve parent-school district communication and resolve disagreements in special education. It focuses on the development and implementation of mediation as a viable alternative to the formal hearing process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). After an introduction, the first section describes state mediation models in five states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. The next section examines the role of the mediator and training for that role. The third section presents 1993 data on mediation usage in the five states studied and related issues, including the outcomes of mediation and the effect of attorney fee reimbursement. Mediations held in these states varied from 17 in New Hampshire to 768 in Massachusetts. The paper's concluding section notes such ongoing issues as the growing cost to states in maintaining the mediation service and the excessive litigiousness that sometimes characterizes the process. Recommendations include reviewing all aspects of special education due process as part of the pending reauthorization of IDEA.
Descriptors: Compliance (Legal); *Conflict Resolution; *Disabilities; *Due Process; Educational Legislation; Elementary Secondary Education; Federal Legislation; Hearings; *Special Education; State Programs
Identifiers: *Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; *Mediation

ED448548 EC308162
Collaborative Problem Solving and Dispute Resolution in Special Education. Training Manual.
Windle, Rod; Warren, Suzanne 1999 137 pp.
Publication Type: Administrative Guides (055)
EDRS_PRICE: EDRS Price MF01/PC06 Plus Postage.
SPONSORING_AGENCY: SJJ69450 _ Oregon State Dept. of Education, Salem.
This training manual provides materials for conducting a workshop on problem solving and creating good agreements in special education. The first section of the manual provides a brief introduction to the world of special education and discusses why special education law is complex. Section 2 explores why conflict is created, seven types of conflict, and the three most common responses to conflict. The following section focuses on preparation for problem solving. Techniques are provided for dealing with difficult people and becoming an effective problem solver. Section 4 highlights critical communication skills and discusses barriers to effective communication. Section 5 provides steps in the process of collaborative problem solving, including sharing perspectives, defining the issues, identifying the interests, g enerating options, deciding on objective criteria, and evaluating options and reaching agreement. The next section focuses on strategies for success in dispute resolution. It provides solutions for common problems, including defusing resistance, refocusing the discussion or reframing the issues, dealing with emotional baggage, and educating. Section 7 discusses dispute resolution processes in special education, including mediation, complaint investigation, due process hearings, independent educational evaluations, fact finding, and arbitration. The final section contains suggested reading, definitions, and acronyms.
Descriptors: Communication Skills; Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Court Litigation; Disabilities; Dissent; Due Process; Educational Legislation; Elementary Secondary Education; Interpersonal Communication; Interpersonal Competence; Parent Teacher Cooperation; Problem Solving; Resistance (Psychology); Special Education; Workshops
Identifiers: Mediation

ED436887 EC307560
Mediation in Missouri: Managing Parent and School Conflict through Effective Communication.
Publication_Date: 1999 12 pp.
PUBLICATION_TYPE: Administrator Guides (055)
AVAILAB ILITY: Center for Innovations in Special Education (CISE), University of Missouri-Columbia, Department of Education, Suite 152 Parkade Center, 601 Business Loop 70 West, Columbia, MO 65211-8020 ($2). Tel: 573-884-1275; Tel: 800-735-2966 (Toll Free/TDD). Web site: <http://www.coe.missouri.edu>.
EDRS_PRICE: EDRS Price MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
INSTITUTION_NAME: BBB32548 _ Center for Innovations in Special Education , Columbia, MO.
This booklet, designed for use by Missouri parents and schools, provides information on using mediation as a non-adversarial alternative to resolving disputes in special education. It compares mediation with impartial due process hearings and complaint investigations, and describes the special education mediation process as voluntary for parents and school personnel, confidential, a no-cost service, and an alternative that does not affect the status of a due process hearing or formal complaint. The benefits of mediation are explained, along with the appointment of a mediator, the role of the mediator as a facilitator, and the roles of parents and schools. Tips are provided for preparing for the mediation session, and the stages of mediation are described. Mediation policies are listed, including the eligibility of disputes that are only applicable for a due process hearing, the prohibition of any video- or audiotape recording of mediation proceedings, the designation of a person by each party who has the authority to make final resolution decisions, the prohibition of legal participation and attendance, the provision of signed copies of the agreement to each party, the exclusion of the mediator from subsequent actions, and the cancellation of a due process hearing if requ ested. (CR)
Descriptors: Compliance (Legal); Court Litigation; Conflict Resolution; Disabilities; Due Process; Elementary Secondary Education; Interpersonal Communication; Parent School Relationship; Special Education
Identifiers: *Mediation; Missouri

ED408741 EC305612
Special Education Mediation in Idaho: "Managing Parent and School Conflict through Effective Communication."
Idaho State Board of Education, Boise. Sep 1996 13p.
Sponsoring Agency: Department of Education, Washington, DC.
Contract No: HO27A40088
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: NON-CLASSROOM MATERIAL (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Idaho
Journal Announcement: RIENOV97
Government: State
This booklet provides Idaho guidelines for the mediation process to resolve conflicts between parents and schools regarding the educational program for a special education student. After an outline of the mediation process, mediation is compared to the impartial due process hearing and the complaint investigation process. Principles of the process are then specified. Other considerations briefly discussed or outlined are the appointment of a mediator, the mediator role, the roles of parents and schools, recommended preparation for the mediation session, and the stages of the mediation process. Nine policies regarding mediation are listed, including: disputes involving weapons, drugs or physical/sexual abuse are not acceptable cases for mediation; no recordings of the mediation proceedings are made; and each party should designate a person with the authority to make final resolution decisions.
Descriptors: *Conflict Resolution; *Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; *Parent School Relationship; *Special Education; State Standards
Identifiers: *Idaho; *Mediation

ED400648 EC305125
Nevada Mediation System for Early Intervention and Special Education. Revised.
Nevada State Dept. of Education, Carson City. Special Education Branch.; Nevada State Dept. of Human Resources, Reno. Early Childhood Services. 1995 21p.
EDRS Price - MF01/PC01 Plus Postage.
Language: English
Document Type: Non-Classroom Material (055)
Geographic Source: U.S.; Nevada
Journal Announcement: RIEMAR97
Target Audience: Parents; Practitioners
This guide to the Nevada Mediation System for Early Intervention and Special Education is intended to assist families, school districts, and state agencies in resolving disputes regarding the provision of appropriate early intervention or special education and related services to children with disabilitie s. First, the mediation process is explained and the value of mediation in improving cooperation between parents and the agency is stressed. Appointment of the mediator and appropriate participants in the mediation are considered next. Mediation is seen as a voluntary dispute resolution process and as an alternative and not a prerequisite to a due process proceeding. An outline of the mediation process, including the mediator's role in the initial contact and responsibilities of all parties during the mediation session, is provided. Principles of mediation are listed, such as: "the mediator has no authority to compel any action by either party," and "the only record kept of the mediation is a Mediation Agreement." Other aspects briefly considered include the role of the Nevada Departments of Education and Human Resources, accessing the mediation process, payment of mediators, and local mediation efforts. Attachments include relevant forms such as the Mediation Agreement, request for postponement of the due process hearing, and the mediator appointment letter.
Descriptors: Agency Role; *Arbitration; *Conflict Resolution; *Disabilities; Due Process; Early Childhood Education; *Early Intervention; Elementary Secondary Education; Hearings; Parent School Relationship; School Districts; *Special Education; State Standards; Student School Relationship
Identifiers: Mediators; Nevada

EJ608004 EC624894
IDEA Partnerships ASPIIRE/ILIAD.
Engiles, Anita
Publication Date: 2000
Journal Citation: TEACHING Exceptional Children; v32 n5 p92-93 May-Jun 2000
Publication Type: Administrator Guides (055); Journal Articles (080)
ISSN: ISSN-0040-0599
This article explains the use of mediation to improve special education partnerships between families and schools. Benefits and drawbacks to mediation are described, along with strategies for finding out about mediation in individual states and finding a mediator. Information on the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education is provided. (CR)
Descriptors: Compliance (Legal); Conflict Resolution; Disabilities; Elementary Secondary Education; Parent School Relationship; Parent Teacher Cooperation; Problem Solving; Teamwork
Identifiers: Mediation

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