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Articles | Tactics & Strategies | Legal Resources | Free Pubs| Books

When Congress amended the IDEA, they added mediation as a procedural safeguard to resolve disputes between parents and schools.

What is mediation? How does it work? Can it help? Should you request mediation? How are mediators trained? Are mediators really impartial? What do you need to know about mediation?

Parent-school disputes are similar to family disputes - a child is involved, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong. You need to learn about the mediation process and what mediation can and cannot accomplish. If you understand how the mediation process works, you'll have a better chance of using mediation successfully.

Articles about Mediation

We Are Going to Mediation - Do We Need an Attorney? Parents and school disagree on an appropriate program for child with a severe hearing impairment. The parents and school are going to mediation. What should they do? How can they prepare?

Learning to Negotiate is Part of the Advocacy Process. Special ed advocate Brice Palmer describes role of negotiating in advocacy; important rules and how to use strategies and techniques.

Special Ed Disputes: Litigate, Negotiate, Mediate? Pam Wright discusses normal and predictable conflict at IEP meetings and other obstacles to effective advocacy.

When You Are in Mediation, You are Negotiating. Mediation is a problem solving process that is confidential. Success depends on both parties being able to communicate openly.

If You Have a Dispute, Litigation is the Last Resort. Never tell a school, or anyone else, that you plan to sue them. There are other ways to resolve parent-school disputes. Depending on the issue, you may continue to negotiate, file a complaint with the state, or request mediation. Litigation is the last resort..

FAQs: What is Mediation? How Does It Work? "Frequently Asked Questions" and "Standards of Practice" from The Academy of Family Mediators.

CADRE: Quick Guide to Special Education Dispute Resolution Processes for Parents of Children & Youth (Ages 3-21).

CADRE: Dispute Resolution Process Comparison Chart.

IDEA Dispute Resolution Parent Guides.

CADRE: Dispute Resolution Process Comparison Charts - Individual States.

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Tactics & Strategies in Mediation

Mediation: Tactics & Strategy Session with Pete and Pam Wright.

Mediation Pitfalls: Sonja Kerr & Pete Wright. Minnesota Attorney Sonja Kerr and Pete Wright discuss pitfalls in mediation.

Seven Steps to Effective Mediation. Comprehensive article stresses preparation; describes mediators' personalities; pitfalls and opportunities. The authors, Diana Santa Maria and Marc Gregg, are practicing attorneys in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Article answers important questions about mediation:

  • What do mediation clients need to know?
  • How long does mediation take?
  • Where should mediation take place? When should mediation take place? Why?
  • What does it mean to "share information strategically?"
  • How do you "prepare" a mediator?
  • Who are directors, influencers, steady types, and compliant types?
  • Why do you allow the mediator to discover the facts in the case?
  • Why is it important to seal the deal in writing?

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Legal Resources - IDEA

OSEP Questions and Answers on Dispute Resolution Procedures 2013 (74 pages). The Q&A document consists of five sections: mediation; State complaint procedures; due process complaints and due process hearing procedures; resolution process; and expedited due process hearings.

What does the IDEA say about procedural safeguards and mediation? Read about procedural safeguards, including mediation, in the IDEA statute.

What do the federal Special Education Regulations say about procedural safeguards and mediation? IDEA 2004 Regulations, Subpart E: Procedural Safeguards.

Free Pubs About Mediation

Preparing for Special Education Mediation and Resolution Sessions: A Guide for Families and Advocates. A joint publication of The Advocacy Institute and The Children's Law Clinic Duke University School of Law.

CADRE Webinar: Beyond Mediation - Exploring Early Resolution Options.

See the complete Dispute Resolution Resource Showcase developed by CADRE, Center for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education - a collection and systematic organization of resources relating to the IDEA's dispute resolution procedural safeguards provisions for both Part B and C. These may be useful to states and districts as they pursue improvements in their special education dispute resolution systems and processes.

Books About Mediation & Negotiating

"Stay cool under pressure, stand up without provoking opposition, deal with underhanded tactics, and find mutually agreeable options."

We recommend these books for parents who are negotiating with the school.

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In by Roger Fisher and William Ury. Teaches you how to negotiate, resolve conflict and develop "win-win" solutions. Based on research from the Harvard Negotiation Project, "Getting to Yes" teaches you how to negotiate "win-win" solutions to disputes. "Getting to Yes" provides concise, step-by-step, strategies that will help you develop fair agreements in all kinds of conflict.

Getting It Done: How to Lead When You're Not in Charge by Roger Fisher and Alan Sharp (1998). Getting It Done explains why collaborating with others is so difficult. People have minds of their own - and most decisions are based on emotions, not logic.

In Getting It Done, you learn how one person can help the group formulate a clear vision of results, suggest a course of action, and learn from past experiences. You'll also learn how to ask questions, offer ideas, and make suggestions that will be heard - how to influence the actions of others by your own behavior.

Getting Past No: Negotiating Your Way from Confrontation to Cooperation by William Ury.
"Getting Past No" provides a roadmap to the land of "Don't get mad, don't get even, get what you want!" One reviewer wrote: "While Getting to Yes gives you the foundation of negotiation, this book focuses on what to do when negotiation breaks down due to the other side's deceit, confused, or just plain difficult behavior . . . good basic strategies to use in dealing with others' tactics, tricks, and attacks."

Coping with Difficult People by Robert Bramson. 

Difficult people are unavoidable - but they can be managed. Psychologist Bramson identifies seven personality types that can make life miserable - from uncooperative types and irritating complainers to intimidating bullies -- and strategies to deal with each type. "Good book!" More info about Coping with Difficult People.

Visit the Advocate's Bookstore for more books about Negotiation, Persuasion, and Conflict Resolution.

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Last updated: 08/01/19

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