What happens after requesting mediation?
You will receive a letter that DPH received your mediation request. If you do not receive a letter, please call Mary Dennehy-Colorusso at 978-851-7261, ext. 4016. DPH will assign a mediator who will contact you and the program.
What happens at mediation?
The mediation will be scheduled at a location that is convenient to both you and the EI program. Mediations happen within 14-days unless you agree to extend the timeline. The mediator generally starts by explaining the process. The mediator will remind everyone that discussions during the mediation session are confidential and may not be used as evidence at a due process hearing or civil suit. You may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
The mediator will give each side a chance to present their concern(s) and view of the disagreement. The mediator will guide a conversation to keep the focus on clarifying information, finding solutions and helping parents and the EI program create their own agreement.
The mediator will then meet with each side separately to ask more questions and gather more information. This is known as a “caucus”. Everyone comes together again to see if there are areas of agreement and what disagreements remain. If the parties work together and compromise, any agreements reached are written down in a mediation agreement.
What is a “mediation agreement”?
A mediation agreement is a legally binding document that is enforceable in court. It lists what has been agreed to by the parent and the EI program. Each side will receive a copy of the agreement.
How long does the process take?
Mediation can be scheduled within 14 days. A mediation session can last anywhere from a few hours to a day. More mediations sessions can be scheduled if needed.
What are the qualifications of the mediators?
Mediators have training in mediation and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The mediators are employed by the Bureau of Special Education Appeals and are a neutral third party. Mediators do not offer opinion(s), take sides or make a decision about the disagreement. Their role is to listen and help parents and the EI program come up with their own solutions and agreements.
Who pays for the mediator?
The Department of Public Health pays for the mediator.
What if we don’t reach an agreement?
You can continue to try to work things out with the EI program or move forward and have a due process hearing.
What about my child’s IFSP services? Do they stop because I requested mediation?
No. The IFSP services that you gave written consent for are provided unless you and the EI team agree to something different. This is known as “stay put”. It means that the child’s last agreed upon services will “stay put” (not change) unless both you and the EI program agree to something different.
Can I withdraw my request for mediation after I have filed it?
Yes. You may withdraw your request for mediation any time before the mediation takes place by contacting DPH or the mediator.