Mediation is a private meeting between school district representatives and parents of the child with special needs. Usually the school district's attorney is present.
The purpose of mediation is to settle the dispute between the child's parents and the school district.
Mediation is voluntary and confidential
Mediation is voluntary. In order for mediation to take place, both parties have to agree to participate in mediation, and they have request it.
Unlike most special education resolution sessions, mediation is confidential. This means that no one may talk about what was discussed at mediation or agreed to. The exception being that a settlement agreement agreed to at mediation may be discussed at a hearing if one of the parties fails to abide by the terms of the settlement.
The Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) will assign a trained mediator to help the parent and the school district try to resolve your dispute. Most of the mediators are administrative law judges who will be present to act as a neutral facilitators of settlement. That means they will not take sides.
If the case fails to settle and instead goes to hearing, OAH will assign a different judge from the one who acted participated in mediation to preside at hearing.
During mediation, the parties usually separate into different rooms, and the mediator conveys information back and forth from one party to the other. During this process the mediator will often ask questions about the case, discuss possible resolutions of the matter, and convey this information to the other party.
If a settlement is reached, the parties will develop a written settlement agreement. This agreement will include the terms of the settlement. Parents need to be ever so careful in signing a settlement agreement written by a school district attorney because the attorney will often ask parents to waive various rights as part of the agreement.
If a parent is unrepresented by an attorney at mediation, the parent may end up waiving rights that they never intended to waive. They may also be short- changed in other aspects of the agreement. For these reasons, it is advisable for parents to hire an attorney to represent them through due process proceedings, including mediation.
Education attorney Molly Watson
Contact attorney Molly Watson today for help with your special education dispute with your child's school district. Call 530-273-2740.