Mediation
Can be an effective way to work to resolve differences and work through disagreements between parties.  Mediation means you have a meeting with a neutral third party person, to chair the meeting.

Mediation can be requested for a number of reasons:


1. If there is a disagreement:
2. If you rejected your child's IEP in full or in part
What is Mediation?
Voluntary
Informal

Timely

Confidential


Mediation is voluntary for both the parents and the school.  Both parties must agree, in order to have a mediation session.
If both parties agree to go mediation, it is worth a try.
Mediation is more informal than a hearing.  Attorneys are not needed at mediation and parties speak for themselves.  At a hearing attorneys are present and speak for the participants.   Making mediation less intimidating to parents.
Mediation is
timely in two ways, it is usually scheduled within 30 calendar days after parents and educators agree to mediate.  A mediation session runs 2-5 hours long, whereas a hearing is 1-3 days.  Mediation generally occurs before a hearing and does not delay the hearing.
Mediation is
confidential; discussions that occur during the mediation process are not to be used in hearing.  There is no audio, video or any written record of the mediation session other than the written, signed mediation agreement. 

The mediator helps parents and school personnel clarify the issues and underlying concerns, explore interests, discuss options and reach an agreement.

Mediators do not make decisions about how to resolve the issues.  That is left up to the Team (parents, student, and school personnel).
If an agreement can be reached, the mediator will put it in writing.  Both parties leave with a copy.

Where does mediation take place?
Mediation sessions take place somewhere within the school district (i.e. admin. building, school, town hall, etc.), at a mutually convenient date and time.

Who can request mediation?
Parents, guardians, educational surrogate parents, students 18 or older, representatives of the school district, advocates or attorneys.

Who attends mediation?

Parents, support person(s) of the parent(s), special education director, and school staff who know the student, and or the district's relevant programs.

How will the mediation session be structured?

Introduction
Joint session
Separate session
[Additional Joint session]
Final Joint session

The party that called BSEA and requested mediation, is the party that speaks first. 
You can not interrupt, or ask questions until your they have finished their statement.

12 Tips from parents for preparing for mediation:
1. Schedule the mediation as soon as possible.
2. Plan to bring your spouse, advocate, evaluators, or anyone else who can support your position (Do not go alone).
3. Make sure you find out ahead of time, who the school plans to invited to attend the mediation.

4. Make or update your child's notebook, to organize your files, include: IEP (current and last signed), evaluations reports, work examples.
5. Have a book with copies of the Mass. and Federal special education regulations (Mediators are not required to know the special education laws/regulations.) All your information
should be mark (e.g. post-it-notes), so you can readily pull out or refer any information as needed.
6. Have multiple copies of the most important documents, and any regulations you want to reference.
7. Be prepared to answer three general questions, for the mediator:
1. Tell me about your child?
2. Why are you here?
3. How can we move forward from here into the future?
 
8. Write a brief summary about your child's background (when your child was diagnose and by who, how disability effects your child, current issue).  Each of these questions should be no longer then 1-2 paragraph statement.  Be as factual as possible, stay with what the disagreement is about (no "He said, she said", or pass problems).  Bring a photograph of your child; it helps to remind everyone of child being discussed.
9. Have documentation on any costs that may be involved.  (i.e. out-of-district tutions, tutor, therapist, aide, camp, transportation, etc.).
10. Decide if mediation does not work, what your next step.   (Before filling out the paper work for hearing it is highly recommend you consult an attorney).
11. Mediation can be terminated at any time, during the mediation, by either party (i.e. if it is getting too negative, or not moving in a productive direction.)
12. Try to get  8 hours of sleep, the night before.
 
If you have been to mediation, in the past, and you did not find the mediator to be very effective, you can request a different mediator (It does not have to always be the same mediator each time or the one assigned to your district).


For more information, see the Department of Education website:
    http://www.mass.gov/anf/hearings-and-appeals/bureau-of-special-education-appeals-bsea/mediation/

For more information about mediation or to receive the name and telephone number of the mediator assigned to your region,
contact the BSEA Director of Mediation, Marc Sevigny: 617-626-7291 or 
Department main number BSEA Direct Phone: (617) 626-7250  
 
(Moved from Malden to Boston on June 30, 2012)
Bureau Of Special Education Appeals (BSEA)
One Congress St., 11th Floor
Boston, MA 02114
BSEA Fax: 617-626-7270

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