Wrightslaw l No Child Left Behind l IDEA 2004 l Fetaweb l Yellow Pages for Kids l Harbor House Law Press

 Home > Advocacy  > Qs & As > We Are Going to Mediation - Do We Need an Attorney?


The Special Ed Advocate
It's Unique ... and Free!

Enter your email address below:

 

2014 - 2015 Training Programs

Oct 23 - Wilton, CT

Oct 25 - Olympia, WA

Oct 30 - Phoenix, AZ

Nov 6 - McAllen, TX

Nov 18 - DesMoines, IA

Nov 21 - Temecula, CA

Dec 4 - OKC, OK

Full Schedule

Be a Hero ...

 Jason at Ft. Benning
... to a Hero
Learn more

Wrightslaw

Home
Topics from A-Z
Free Newsletter
Seminars & Training
Consultations
Yellow Pages for Kids
Press Room
FAQs
Sitemap

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Books & DVDs
Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Bulk Discounts
New! Military Discounts
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Articles
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
FAQs
Newsletter Archives
Summer School Series
Success Stories
Tips

Law Library

Articles
Caselaw
IDEA 2004
No Child Left Behind
McKinney-Vento Homeless
FERPA
Section 504
Fed Court Complaints

Topics

Advocacy
ADD/ADHD
Allergy/Anaphylaxis
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
Bullying
College/Continuing Ed
Damages
Discrimination
Due Process
Early Intervention (Part C)
Eligibility
ESY
Evaluations
FAPE
Flyers
Future Planning
Harassment
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
IEPs
ISEA
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE/Inclusion
Mediation
Military / DOD
No Child Left Behind
NCLB Directories
NCLB Law & Regs
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Reading
Related Services
Research Based Instruction
Response to Intervention (RTI)
Restraints/Abuse
Retention
Retaliation
School Report Cards
Section 504
Self-Advocacy
Teachers & Principals
Transition
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

Advocate's Bookstore
Advocacy Resources
Directories
  Disability Groups
  International
  State DOEs
  State PTIs
Free Flyers
Free Pubs
Free Newsletters
Legal & Advocacy
Glossaries
   Legal Terms
   Assessment Terms
Best School Websites

 
We Are Going to Mediation - Do We Need an Attorney?
Print this page

Our daughter is hearing impaired, oral, and mainstreamed.
Although she is passing, we are concerned about next year. We do so much work with her at home. We asked that she have an itinerant teacher next year. The school denied our request. They said she has to "flounder" before they will provide any help. If we stop working with her, she will flounder. We are not willing to put her through this.

We are going to mediation about this issue.

We contacted an attorney who suggested that we go to mediation alone - that it isn't necessary to bring an attorney with us. The school is sending an attorney to mediation. Is it wise for us to go without one?

We have letters from professionals, audiologists, psychiatrists, backing our case but we don't have an attorney to accompany us. What else can we do or bring with us to the mediation meeting? Any words of wisdom?


IDEA 97 encourages parents and schools to use mediation to resolve their disputes. When done properly, mediation can be an excellent way to resolve conflict. We are both trained as mediators.

When you have a dispute with the school, you need to have independent information about these problems (independent of what you remember). If you need to have a due process hearing, school staff will not remember things as you do. They often tell hearing officers that the parents didnít tell them that they were unhappy with the services the child was receiving. Even if you deny this, it is still one personís word against another.

Paper Trails

There are a couple of easy ways to develop a paper trail in case you need it to support your position.

Keep a log of contacts between you and the school. Write polite businesslike letters to the school after any meeting where decisions are made.
(if you have our book, From Emotions to Advocacy, read the chapters about Paper Trails, Writing Letters, and Preparing for Meetings)

For example, after an IEP meeting, write a polite letter thanking the IEP team for the meeting. Include your understanding about what the school agreed to provide, like this:


"My understanding of the services that my daughter will receive is XX, YY, ZZ

"I shared the new evaluation from Dr. Jones. The IEP team said they didnít have to incorporate any of Dr. Jones' recommendations."

"When we asked for more help, Ms. Smith said that our daughter would have to flounder before the school would provide any help. We told her that we disagreed with this. We told her that our daugher would be floundering now if we werenít helping her so much at home."

"We advised the IEP team that we were spending two or three hours a night in tutoring - and she was only in second grade."

If problems crop up, your letters show that the problems are longstanding and that you have been trying to work cooperatively with the school.

Attorneys

You asked, "We contacted an attorney who suggested that we go to this meeting alone or rather that it wasn't necessary yet to bring an attorney with us - the school is sending an attorney to the arbitration though. Do you think it is wise for us to go without one?"

For mediation to work, neither side should bring an attorney!

Properly done, mediation helps people communicate. Mediation helps both sides discuss the situation openly and honestly, with the objective of helping the parties come up with a fair acceptable solution to their problem.

Mediation should be confidential. If lawyers are present, there are more chances for things to get polarized.
Perhaps the mediator can ask the school board lawyer to stay in the waiting room!

Evaluations and Letters

You asked, "We have letters from professionals, audiologists, psychiatrists, backing our case but we don't have an attorney going with us."

Yes, definitely bring your evaluations. Make a short list of what you want for your daughter and use your experts' statements to support your requests.

How Can You Prepare?

You asked, "Anything else we should do or bring with us to our meeting?"

What should you do to prepare for mediation? Go to your local library or bookstore and pick up a copy of Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher. Getting to Yes is based on research about how to resolve conflict. Getting to Yes will help you understand the mediation/negotiation process and how you can participate effectively. It's a great book - and it's a small book - probably no more than 100 pages long.


Another thing - assume you resolve your current problem. History repeats itself. If you begin to build your paper trail now and have more problems later, your letters will be good evidence of your dealings with various people at the school.

Let us know how things turn out.

Email Newsletter icon, E-mail Newsletter icon, Email List icon, E-mail List icon The Special Ed Advocate: It's Free!

 

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board
About the DVD Video

 

Copyright © 1998-2014, Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright. All rights reserved.

Contact Us | Press Mission l Our Awards l Privacy Policy l Disclaimer l Site Map

New Book!

Now Shipping!

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Check it out!

Wrightslaw Store

The Advocate's Store

Get Help!

Blog the Wrightslaw

Wrightslaw on Facebook

Find us on Facebook

Wrightslaw Books

Student Discounts

Military Discounts


Wrightslaw: All About IEPs

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book
To Order


About the Book

To Order


Surviving Due Process: Stephen Jeffers v. School Board

About the DVD Video
To Order


To Order


Wrightslaw: No Child Left Behind

About the Book
To Order

Wrightslaw Multimedia Training


Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Understanding Your Child's Test Scores

Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $
24.95
Wrightslaw Special: $14.95

Special Education Law & Advocacy Training
(6.5 hrs)


Wrightslaw WebEx Special Education Law & Training Program (6.5 hrs)


Learn More
To Order
Retail Price: $99.95
Wrightslaw Special: $49.95