Even when the parents/guardian and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur.
If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent/guardian the right to a due process hearing.
Mediation is provided at no cost for IDEA-related cases.
If both parties agree to mediation, the Office for Dispute Resolution will arrange for a neutral, specially trained mediator to meet with them at a mutually convenient location. The mediator will meet with both parties together (and separately if necessary) to listen to both points of view, in order to understand each side’s position. Neither school officials nor parents/guardian may include a lawyer at the mediation session.
The mediator does not make a decision on the disagreement. Rather, the mediator will help both parties try to reach an agreement. If the parties do reach an agreement through the mediation session, that agreement will be put in writing and, if appropriate, incorporated into the student’s IEP. More information about mediation is available in the Mediation Guide.
As of June, 2008, state regulations were modified to incorporate pendent placement (stay-put status) for a child during mediation proceedings. More information about Pendency is available on the Mediation Pendency page of this site.