Louise: Our School District, in Connecticut, requested a mediation based on a letter I wrote. In the letter, I recounted several factors; including lack of IEP implementation, retaliation and other transgressions committed by the school. The District requested mediation to resolve these issues. They sent me a standard form which they partially filled-out. However; in the space “Description of the nature of the issue in dispute, including relating facts”, the District noted “see attached letter”; which is the letter that I originally sent. I am trying to understand what THEIR dispute is. In other words, there have been so many transgressions, and I would like to know specifically which one they are disputing. If there any law that says prior to mediation the District must let the parent know what the District is disputing?
The district requesting mediation does not mean they are disputing any of your letter. This is an opportunity for you to summarize the transgressions, & request actions to stop & prevent future transgressions. You can also request compensatory services.
Here are two guides that can help you better understand and prepare for mediation:
Preparing for Special Education Mediation and Resolution Sessions http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/Preparing%20for%20SpEd%20Mediation%20Resolution%20Sessions.pdf
Special Education Mediation http://www.directionservice.org/cadre/pdf/MediationParentGuide_2014.pdf
Your local parent center can also help you understand the mediation process and other dispute resolution options you have (http:/www.parentcenterhub.org/find-your-center/).
Mediation exists to help work out issues between the IEP Team. You indicate that such issues exist. By requesting mediation, the district is indicating that they would like to try to work through the issues you identified and that they would like to use the mediation process to do so. They do not have have to have any “disputes” of their own.
I think it’s almost always worth agreeing to mediation as a parent, when the district is the one asking. At the very least, you and the school will gain some new insight into each other’s opinions. If your relationship with other Team members is in disrepair, mediation can also help improve things. If you go through mediation and no resolution is reached (or a partial one is), you can still use other dispute resolution options.