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Dispute Resolution in Special Education ~ Exemplar Collection

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Exemplar Process Definitions

Participant & Stakeholder Training

Stakeholder training is aimed at equipping stakeholders - parents, educators, service providers, advocates and others - with skills that enhance their capacity to communicate, negotiate and prevent conflict from escalating. A wide variety of topics may be included in the training curriculum and the learning setting can vary from short workshops provided to small groups, to all-day courses provided at state-wide conferences.
Creating Agreement
“Creating Agreement” was jointly developed by a workgroup comprised of leaders from CADRE, the IDEA Partnership at NASDSE (National Association of State Directors of Special Education), and representatives from national and state organizations who share an interest in the prevention and early resolution of special education disagreements. Fundamental to this collaboration is the belief that training and technical assistance is more effective when there is meaningful stakeholder involvement. The Workgroup developed a basic presentation, including skill-building activities, with the purpose of reaching and informing the widest possible network of people. A key aspect of “Creating Agreement” is that the training is delivered by and to blended audiences that represent different stakeholder perspectives. The information is disseminated into a variety of professional and parent networks and presented to organizations where early dispute resolution is an important issue. Pennsylvania and Wisconsin are among a number of states that have adopted “Creating Agreement” as the model for participant and stakeholder training.
“RESPECT”, an acronym for ‘Recognizing Everyone's Strengths by Peacebuilding, Empathizing, Communicating and Trustbuilding’, addresses conflict in its relational context and has been taught to special education administrators, educators, service providers, parents and others throughout Iowa for over fourteen years. The primary goal of this program is to enhance learning for students receiving special education services by respectfully and creatively building and growing relationships between educators and family members of IEP teams. This goal is based on the theory that the power of an IEP team to produce results that will meet student, educator and family needs is rooted in the quality of the relationships among team members. Moreover, the quality of the relationships is dependent to a large extent on the way team members work collaboratively to bridge differences. An additional goal is to help IEP team members meaningfully resolve differences at the earliest possible level in order to sharply reduce the need for other dispute resolution processes, including preappeal conferences, mediations and due process hearings.
Features of a Participant & Stakeholder Training process that may contribute to the practice being effective
  • Broad stakeholder involvement in design and delivery of training workshops.
  • Formally establishing the group, perhaps under the auspices of the state special education advisory committee or in another fashion, so that it exists as a standing entity.
  • Broad stakeholder representation, involving all constituencies, including state and local administrators, parents and family members, attorneys and advocates, dispute resolution practitioners, and others.
  • Workshop participants are mixed groups, including family members, educators, service providers and other stakeholders.
  • Training curriculum that emphasizes adult learning theory in its approach.
  • Clear rules for membership and rotating representatives, thus ensuring that fresh perspectives are part of the discussions.
  • Training curriculum that includes emphasis on key communication and problem solving skills.
  • Regular meeting times and communication mechanisms for information sharing between meetings.
  • Interactive activities that provide participants with opportunities to learn theory and practice skills.
  • A clear mission, objectives and functions of the group.
  • Use of a variety of media, including PowerPoint and video.
  • Policies and procedures that govern the nature of how the group operates, including accountability and decision-making.
  • Respect for cultural and individual differences.
  • Participant evaluation and continuous improvement activities and practices.
  • Multiple strategies that promote broad dissemination to diverse stakeholder groups.
There are 40 items associated with this process definition.