SES has consulted with SEAs that serve large, urban populations and those that serve smaller, rural populations. SES conducts systemic reviews of SEA dispute resolution processes to identify areas for improvement. SES regularly provides training for hearing officers, ALJs, mediators, IEP facilitators, state complaint investigators, and SEA personnel. SES also helps SEAs reduce the number of due process complaints through mediation programs and IEP and resolution meeting facilitation.
, Managing Member of SES, has practiced special education law since 1997, and he possesses extensive knowledge of the IDEA and the available dispute resolution options under the IDEA, including mediation, due process hearings, and IEP facilitation. After working as an attorney with the Office of Legal Services of the New York City Board of Education, he spent several years representing parents and students with disabilities, as well as nonpublic special education schools, in special education matters, including mediations and hearings. Mr. Merced has served as an IDEA hearing officer, mediator, and IEP facilitator in hundreds of matters. He was appointed to serve as Chief Hearing Officer for the District of Columbia for approximately three years, and he played a key role in assisting the District in being released from court supervision. Mr. Merced has lectured at national hearing officer training academies and developed and delivered comprehensive training programs for hearing officers, ALJs, mediators, facilitators, due process coordinators, service providers, and parents. Mr. Merced also has provided systems consultations and evaluations, as well as compliance and policy reviews for SEAs on IDEA matters. He has drafted appropriate standard practices, manuals, and hearing officer evaluation protocols. As a result of his broad experience in special education litigation, training, and oversight, and his firsthand knowledge of the challenges hearing officers and mediators face, Mr. Merced is a sought-after SEA consultant, trainer, and speaker at nationally recognized conferences on special education. He has also presented numerous individualized training programs for several SEAs. He is a member in good standing of the state bars of New York (1996), Massachusetts (1996), and the District of Columbia (2009). Mr. Merced is fluent in conversational Spanish.
, Member of SES, has practiced special education law since 1973. He is a certified IDEA mediator and has served as private arbitrator, mediator, facilitator, neutral evaluator, and compliance investigator of disputes under IDEA in well over 500 matters. He has served as special education due process hearing officer and state review officer in over 600 cases and taught special education law at Michigan State University
New York State Education Department (NYSED)
SES provides specialized training programs (onsite and webcast) on IDEA implementation and related New York law to 100+ IDEA contractual hearing officers, Office of State Review personnel, and NYSED staff. Provides on-going technical assistance on all matters related to the IDEA and related New York law to hearing officers and NYSED staff. Assists with revisions to New York law, regulations, policies and procedures, as requested.
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
SES assists ISBE with improving its special education mediation program by employing qualified mediators to promote effective communication between school districts and parents of students with disabilities. SES is responsible for all training programs, including new mediator training programs. Provides technical assistance to individual mediators and ISBE personnel. SES assists ISBE with systemic matters, including updating mediation-related forms/informational documents, revising procedures/policies, helping define outreach, and promoting mediation. SES also provides specialized training programs on IDEA implementation and related Illinois law to hearing officers and ISBE staff.
Hawaii Department of Education (HIDOE)
SES provides specialized training programs on IDEA implementation and related Hawaii law to hearing officers and HIDOE staff. SES also provides on-going technical assistance on IDEA implementation and related Hawaii law to hearing officers and HIDOE staff.
District of Columbia Office of State Superintendent of Education (OSSE)
Deusdedi Merced was instrumental in reducing the number of due process complaints by introducing IEP and resolution meeting facilitation. Mr. Merced assisted OSSE in establishing its mediation program, recruitment and selection of mediators, and provided training and technical assistance to the mediators. He served as the primary mediator for OSSE prior to the program’s establishment, and he mediated approximately 30 IDEA complaints in a two-year period with a 97 percent success rate. He also was tasked with mediating state complaints, including systemic claims against OSSE and the District of Columbia Public Schools. In addition, Mr. Merced provided training and technical assistance to hearing officers and OSSE personnel on IDEA implementation and related District of Columbia law. Mr. Merced also monitored and supervised the timelines and quality of OSSE’s due process hearing process and hearing officer decisions through the provision of training, technical assistance, observation, review of decisions and administrative records, and feedback. This monitoring and supervision dramatically improved the overall timeliness of due process hearings and decisions, and OSSE was released from Federal court supervision instituted pursuant to a consent decree.