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IEP FAQs Pop-Up

Resolving Parent-School Disputes

Question 5.

What is mediation? How does it work?

Answer

Mediation is a voluntary process that allows parties to resolve disputes without litigation. Before entering into mediation, you need to understand your rights and the law. You can request mediation without requesting a due process hearing. The school may offer mediation to resolve a dispute before a due process hearing.

A mediator helps the parties express their views and positions and understand the views and positions of the other party. For mediation to be successful, the mediator must be qualified and impartial. Mediators should not take sides or positions. A good mediator must know how to facilitate communication. Knowledge of special education law is less important.

Both parties must discuss their views and differences frankly. With help from the mediator, you and the school will try to reach an agreement.

The mediator can act as a facilitator for an IEP meeting. The terms of a mediated agreement can be incorporated into the IEP so the IEP reflects the agreement.

Parents and school districts do not pay for mediation. The state pays the costs.

If you and the school resolve your dispute through mediation, you will execute a legally binding agreement. Both parties will sign the agreement. The written agreement will state that all discussions during mediation are confidential. The written agreement is enforceable in a state or federal district court.

Legal Resource

Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 2nd Edition (also see footnotes, p. 112)

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs Chapter 14

IDEA

20 U.S.C.§ 1415(e)

Commentary in 71 FR at 46695

IDEA Regulations

34 C.F.R. §300.506

Additional Resources

Mediation

Learning to Negotiate is Part of the Advocacy Process

Special Ed Disputes: Litigate, Negotiate, Mediate?

When You Are in Mediation, You are Negotiating

State Special Education Regulations and Guidelines. You will find your specific state regulations at your State Department of Education website. Use the Wrightslaw Yellow Pages for Kids with Disabilities to locate your state site.

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