Mediation in Special Education

MediationRecently, I was asked to do an in-service for the mediators who are appointed by the Illinois State Board of Education. My co-presenter was a well known school district attorney. The purpose of the training was to discuss suggestions and reflections on what elements made for a successful mediation. Interestingly enough, the other attorney and I had very similar suggestions. I think they are worth mentioning since many parents are unrepresented in mediation. For a discussion on the difference between mediation and a resolution session, you can refer to the ISBE website.

  • Mediators are not hearing officers. They cannot force either party to agree or make a decision. They are there to facilitate the process.
  • This is not a hearing.
  • Prepare a brief summary of your concerns. It is best to identify and prioritize the most important issues rather than to spend a lot of time discussing every possible problem you have encountered with the district. Keep it simple and short (15-20 minutes). Stick to the facts and try not to make it personal.
  • Be prepared to state what you want from the district.
  • Be prepared to listen.
  • The mediator will establish ground rules for each of the parties during the mediation. (e.g. allowing each person to speak, not interrupting).
  • Know in advance what  you are willing to compromise on. Generally in mediation no one gets everything they want.
  • A mediation agreement is a binding document. If either side refuses to sign the agreement then it will be unenforceable.
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About Micki Moran

Micki Moran is the founding partner of The Child and Family Law Center, Ltd. She dedicates her practice to providing legal assistance to children and families who are in need of representation in the areas of special education, disability law, juvenile and young adult criminal law, abuse and neglect, guardianship, and mental health issues. Micki's practice is founded on the principle that children and their families require and deserve excellent legal representation with a multidisciplinary approach that works with multiple systems of care and creates communities that support and improve the quality of all peoples' lives.
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