We are about to go into mediation and have concerns and questions about the process.
Q: Can parents tape record the meeting? If the district will have an attorney present at mediation, can one be appointed for the parent, at no charge?
Mediation is a problem solving process that is confidential. Success depends on both parties being able to communicate openly. The parties cannot use information gained in mediation in later litigation, so the answer is “No.” People should not attempt to tape record mediation. If there is litigation later, a judge will come down hard on them for violating the confidentiality of mediation.
There is no legal requirement that an attorney be appointed for a
parent at no charge. I would suggest you contact the state P & A office –
their mandate is to represent the interests of people with disabilities. You can find your state P & A office in your state directory on the Yellow Pages or use the National Disability Rights Network Directory.
Q: What can we do to feel less anxious and intimidated?
Parents need to prepare for mediation as they should prepare for any important meeting or event. You need to be able to state what you want and why, and provide any documentation or evaluation that supports your requests. When you prepare, you will understand what mediation can and cannot do. If you prepare, you will feel less anxious.
Mediation is not a formal legal process like a due process hearing.
People use mediation to resolve disputes of almost any kind – between neighbors, between landlords and tenants, between spouses.
The purpose of mediation is to provide a way for people to discuss
their concerns openly, without fear that what they say will be used
against them. When you are in mediation, you are negotiating.