Special Education Mediation - a snippet from my research

There continues to be an unexplored area of special education mediation focused on outcomes for students. More evidence and live interviews are needed to cure possible ineffective uses of mediation by families of children with special needs, school administrators, and mediators themselves. Parents of children with special needs see mediation as an extension of an IEP meeting and therefore embrace it as a place to voice their concerns about school administrator policies or actions. School officials see mediation as a platform to persuade families that they are competent in fulfilling their responsibilities and exercising discretion over special education services. However both of these views advance a narrow perception that each party has a “one way voice” opportunity to extend its position while the third-party mediator either rationalizes the position to the other party or has them bargain for their demands through the mediation process. Coincidently, both overlook the opportunity for mediation to be a time to reflect collaboratively on where the child’s needs may lie and where family and school could adjust to meet those needs. Special education mediators have a huge role in mending these fences. For the sake of students, special education mediation need evolve into a child’s best interest platform if it is to fulfill promises of alternative dispute resolution in this area. Mediation should not only be procedurally different from due process hearings, but it should be substantively different from even the other IDEA safeguards of IEP meetings and civil litigations. Additional evaluative research mindful of children’s bests interests can make this possible.

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