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The National Center on Dispute Resolution in Special Education

"Encouraging the use of mediation and other collaborative strategies to resolve disagreements about special
education and early intervention programs."

Dispute Resolution Database Structure and Elements

by Drs. Howard and Judy Schrag


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act includes a number of procedural safeguards designed to protect the rights of parents and their child with a disability, as well as give families and schools a mechanism for resolving disputes. Procedures to handle disputes including complaints, mediation requests and due process hearings have been developed by each state along with policies designed to insure the presence of the safeguards.

With policies and procedures in place, most states developed tracking systems to ensure that alternative dispute resolution procedures were implemented and completed in a timely manner. These tracking systems have been developed and maintained using a variety of media. Many states started with paper files, with most gradually moving toward the use of computer systems to maintain their records.

During 1999, CADRE in cooperation with NASDSE conducted a national screening of the current status of alternative dispute resolution data collection procedures carried out within the states. Following the screening, a more in-depth study of state dispute resolution data collection procedures was conducted within ten states.

In general, the sampled states have developed logging procedures within each formal dispute resolution process to follow the cases through the process. However, none of the ten sampled states had a case management system that integrates or goes across all three formal procedures (i.e., complaints resolution, mediation, and due process). The availability of such information would provide excellent management information for decision-making within the SEAs.

To help facilitate the development of dispute resolution case management database systems, CADRE and NASDSE formed a design team for the purpose of determining the data elements that would best be considered for inclusion in such a database system. Participants from Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Maine, Idaho, and Washington State provided design team input to establish a comprehensive list of data elements and suggestions regarding its structure. The following provides the information developed by the database design team.


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