COVID-19   Law    Advocacy    Topics A-Z     Training    Wrights' Blog   Wrightslaw Store    Yellow Pages for Kids 
 Home > Advocacy Library  > Letters to Wrightslaw > Mediation 

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

Enter your email address below:

Training Programs

Jan. 4 - Telecast / TRT CLE

Feb. 3 - Suffolk County, NY

Apr. 11 - Denver, CO

June 5-8 - San Antonio, TX

Full Schedule


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

Books & Training

Wrightslaw Storesecure store lock
  Advocate's Store
  Student Bookstore
  Exam Copies
Training Center
Mail & Fax Orders

Advocacy Library

Cool Tools
Doing Your Homework
Ask the Advocate
Newsletter Archives
Short Course Series
Success Stories

Law Library

Fed Court Complaints
IDEA 2004
McKinney-Vento Homeless
Section 504


American Indian
Assistive Technology
Autism Spectrum
Behavior & Discipline
College/Continuing Ed
Due Process
Early Intervention
  (Part C)

Episodic, such as
   Allergies, Asthma,
   Diabetes, Epilepsy, etc

Future Planning
High-Stakes Tests
Homeless Children
IDEA 2004
Identification & Child Find
Juvenile Justice
Law School & Clinics
Letters & Paper Trails
LRE / Inclusion
Military / DOD
Parental Protections
PE and Adapted PE
Privacy & Records
Procedural Safeguards
Progress Monitoring
Related Services
Research Based

Response to Intervention

Restraints / Seclusion
   and Abuse

School Report Cards
Section 504
Teachers & Principals
Twice Exceptional (2e)
VA Special Education

Resources & Directories

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


 Letter from Jim and Mary of North Carolina about Mediation:

Print this page

Dear Pete and Pam:

I hope you can help us. Our 8 year old daughter who is going into third grade is severely-profoundly hearing impaired, oral, and mainstreamed.

Although she is passing, we are very concerned about third grade . We have been doing so much work at home with her. My husband and I requested that she have an itinerant teacher next year. The school denied our request. They said that she will have to flounder before they will provide her with any help. If we stopped working with her, she would flounder but we're not willing to do this.

We are going to mediation about this issue.

We contacted an attorney. The attorney suggested that we go to mediation alone, or rather that it wasn't necessary to bring an attorney with us. The school is sending an attorney to the 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 with us.

What else can we do or bring with us to the mediation meeting? Any words of wisdom?


Jim and Mary

Dear Jim and Mary -

You had several questions -

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. Pete and I are both trained as mediators. We just uploaded a short article about mediation onto the website.

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 hearing, the school staff will not remember things as you do. They often tell hearing officers that the parents didn’t tell them that they were unhappy with the services the child was receiving. Even if you deny this, it’s still one person’s word against another.

There are a couple of easy ways to develop a paper trail, in case you need it to support your position. First, keep a log of contacts between you and the school. Second, write polite businesslike letters to the school whenever there is a meeting or decisions are made.

For example, after an IEP meeting, you would write a polite "thank you" letter. You would thank the IEP team for meeting with you. You would include your understanding about what the school is going 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 didn’t 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 weren’t 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 later, these letters show that the problems are longstanding and that you have been trying to work cooperatively with the school.

<<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!

<<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 have support for this from your experts.

<<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 from the Harvard Negotiation Project. 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 that you resolve your current problem. You need to remember that 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.

Pete and Pam

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

Check Out
The Advocate's Store!

Wrightslaw on FacebookWrightslaw on TwitterWrightslaw YouTube Channel 

Wrightslaw Books
Wrightslaw: Special Education Law, 3rd Edition, by Pam and Pete Wright
About the Book

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy, 2nd Edition
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs
About the Book

Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments
About the Book

Wrightslaw: Special Education Legal Developments and Cases 2019
About the Book

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

The Advocate's Store

Understanding Your Child's
Test Scores (1.5 hrs)

Wrightslaw Special: $14.95