Special Education Mediation is a voluntary and confidential dispute resolution process available at no cost through the BSEA. When school personnel and parents disagree about the educational needs of a student with disabilities, either party may request mediation.
In mediation, an impartial mediator helps parents and school staff clarify the issues and underlying concerns, explore interests, discuss options and collaborate to reach mutually satisfactory agreements that address the needs of the student. The mediator does not decide how to resolve the dispute. When the parties resolve all or some of the issues, they work together with the mediator to put their agreement(s) in writing.
This informal, collaborative problem-solving process encourages mutual respect, promotes communication and often provides the basis for positive working relationships between parents and school staff.
For more information about mediation or to receive the name and telephone number of the mediator assigned to your region, contact the BSEA Coordinator of Mediation at (617) 626-7291
Preparing for Mediation
Before you attend mediation, it may be helpful to:
- Make an outline of the dispute and of your viewpoint: What's involved? About what are you in disagreement?
- Decide what you want for the student and what you would be willing to propose.
- List the solutions you would be willing to offer to settle the dispute. You may want to list the most important one first, next important second, and so on.
- Check out your viewpoint and ideas. Ask others (colleagues, friends, relatives) to react and comment on your position, what you are seeking, proposed solutions, etc.
- While it is not required, if you decide you need someone to assist you (attorney, advocate, consultant, etc.), seek an advisor who will represent your interests.
- Think about both short and long-term solutions.
- Negotiate with the attitude that, in developing an agreement, it is frequently advisable to start with a plan that might work (even though not your first choice) and then later build on it or modify it as needed, rather than maintain a single solution that is unacceptable to the other party.
- Recognize that mediation requires the give-and-take of ideas and offers, before solutions are agreed to and an agreement reached. Therefore, mediation can be a very creative, spontaneous and dynamic process for the participants.
- Remember to keep the focus on the student's needs.
- Be prepared to explain to the mediator (and opposing party) what issues you'd like to address during the mediation session.
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