Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parents and LEA work together to resolve their disagreements. There is no cost to parents to participate in mediation.
An impartial mediator assists the participants to resolve disagreements and reach a solution that satisfies all participants. The mediator is trained in effective mediation techniques. More importantly, the mediator is also specifically trained and knowledgeable about the laws and regulations regarding special education services.
Under the IDEA, mediation can be used to address disputes relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of a child with a disability or the provision of a FAPE to the child. Mediation also may be used to address any other matters arising under federal and State special education law that are not subject to a due process complaint.
- The parents and the LEA must both agree to participate in the mediation, but the participants may end the mediation process at any time.
- Disagreements may be resolved more quickly through mediation than through other dispute resolution options.
- Mediation cannot deny or delay the parent’s right to a hearing. Mediation must be available to the parties even if a request for a due process hearing has not been filed.
- Mediation discussions are confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding.
If the parties reach a resolution through mediation, they must execute a legally binding agreement. The mediation agreement must be in writing, signed by the parents and a district representative with the authority to bind the school district, and provide that all discussions that occur during the mediation process will remain “confidential” (i.e., cannot be used later as evidence in any subsequent IDEA proceeding).