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What the Law Says: Mediation
(From Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, page 67)
20 U.S.C. § 1415 - Procedural Safeguards
(1) In general.--Any State educational agency or local educational agency that receives assistance under this part shall ensure that procedures are established and implemented to allow parties to disputes involving any matter described in subsection (b)(6) to resolve such disputes through a mediation process which, at a minimum, shall be available whenever a hearing is requested under subsection (f) or (k).
(2) Requirements.--Such procedures shall meet the following requirements:
(A) The procedures shall ensure that the mediation process--
(i) is voluntary on the part of the parties;
(ii) is not used to deny or delay a parent’s right to a due process hearing under subsection (f), or to deny any other rights afforded under this part; and
(iii) is conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.
(B) A local educational agency or a Stateagency may establish procedures to require parents who choose not to use the mediation process to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party who is under contract with--
(i) a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in the State established under section 682 or 683; or
(ii) an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity; to encourage the use, and explain the benefits, of the mediation process to the parents.
(C) The State shall maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.
(D) The State shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of meetings described in subparagraph (B).
(E) Each session in the mediation process shall be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held in a location that is convenient to the parties to the dispute.
(F) An agreement reached by the parties to the dispute in the mediation process shall be set forth in a written mediation agreement.
Discussions that occur during the mediation process shall be
confidential and may not be used as evidence in
any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings and the
parties to the mediation process may be required to sign a confidentiality
pledge prior to the commencement of such process.