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.
IDEA requires the LEA to "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."
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.