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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."

System Design


A New Era: Revitalizing Special Education for Children and their Families - Report From President's Commission on Excellence on Special Education Released On October 3, 2001, President George Bush established a Commission on Excellence in Special Education to collect information and study issues related to Federal, State, and local special education programs with the goal of recommending policies for improving the education performance of students with disabilities.

A Roadmap to Legal Dispute Resolution for Students with Disabilities This article maps out the similarities and differences among the various routes to Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Section 504 dispute resolution.

About the CADRE Continuum of Processes & Practices This brief article provides an introduction to CADRE’s Process and Practice Continuum which offers a dynamic database of dispute resolution activity in special education.

ADA Mediation Guidelines: An Ongoing Endeavor ADA Guidelines were issued in February 2000. As the Work Group intended, a collaborative process has continued in the intervening years. This article highlights some of the resulting developments.

ADR Options There is a spectrum of dispute resolution processes, ranging from informal discussion to formal adjudication. The concept behind the development of alternative dispute resolution, or "ADR," is that the traditional adjudicatory model of dispute resolution is not always the best approach. Rather, the concept has developed that "the forum should fit the fuss," and not vice versa.

Audio: CADRE Presents At SPIDR CADRE: Providing National ADR Technical Support for Special Education Disputes was presented by a panel of national leaders at The Society Of Professionals in Dispute Resolution(SPIDR) 27th Annual Conference that was held in Baltimore.

Benefits of Mediation People in disputes who are considering using mediation as a way to resolve their differences often want to know what the process offers. While mediation cannot guarantee specific results, there are trends that are characteristic of mediation. This article contains a list of some of the benefits of mediation, broadly considered.

Beyond Mediation Dialogue Guide The IDEA Partnership has developed a Dialogue Guide on the important topic of dispute resolution. Using CADRE's work on early and innovative dispute resolution processes, the Partnership has developed both an Executive Summary of the document Beyond Mediation: Strategies For Appropriate Early Dispute Resolution In Special Education and a Dialogue Starter for Dispute Resolution.

Beyond Mediation: Strategies For Appropriate Early Dispute Resolution In Special Education This briefing paper describes some of the causes of special education conflict and then explores the range of conflict management approaches being pioneered by state education agencies and school districts. The focus of this paper and the underlying research is on innovative work that is being done related to disagreements regarding those children and youth (3 years and older) served under Part B of IDEA. A CADRE Publication. This document was published in October 2002. More information on IDEA 2004.

CADRE and JAMS Foundation Present: Voices from the Field During the Fifth National Symposium on Dispute Resolution in Special Education, with support from the JAMS Foundation, CADRE's Director Marshall Peter conducted interviews with ten different representatives from the field of dispute resolution and special education.

CADRE Technical Assistance to States: Dispute Resolution System Integration and Performance Enhancement (DR SIPE) This continually evolving tool is designed to assist states wishing to improve their dispute resolution system using a systematic, data guided process for managing and improving dispute resolution programs and practices. The DR SIPE workbook outlines the steps in that change process, emphasizing the initial steps of problem analysis and identifying areas with the highest potential for improvement.

CADRE: Concept Paper: Alternative Dispute Resolution This concept paper briefly describes the system that the California Department of Education has developed to encourage local alternative dispute resolution options throughout the state. Included is information about data collection, program mentoring, and a four-year budget model.

Conflict Resolution Education: Goals, Models, Benefits and Implementation This paper, which was prepared for Pennsylvania's regional "Food For Thought" Dinners, explores system design issues related to school-based, conflict resolution education.

Considerando Mediación de Especial Educación La mediacion es una manera flexible de resolver los desacuerdos entre la escuela o sistemas de intervención temprana ("early intervention") y los padres de niños con discapacidades. Una persona neutral, llamada un mediador, ayuda a los padres, educadores, y proveedores de servicios a comunicarse más efectivamente y a desarrollar un documento escrito que contiene los detalles de su acuerdo. Este Documento fue publicado en 1999. Mas informacion sobre IDEA 2004. View this document in English.

Considering Special Education Mediation Mediation is a flexible way to resolve disagreements between school or early intervention (EI) systems and parents of children with disabilities. An impartial person, called a mediator, helps parents, educators and service providers to communicate more effectively and develop a written document that contains the details of their agreement. Participation in mediation is voluntary and confidential. This document was published in 1999. More information on IDEA 2004.

Data Drill (APR Data Analysis & Planning) Tool CADRE's Data Drill Tool is designed to help states analyze Annual Performance Report Table 7 data and use various calculated measures in improvement planning of state dispute resolution systems.

Discipline Disputes Specific requirements have been added to the new IDEA regarding the discipline of children with disabilities. These requirements are complex and lengthy and are based upon standards that have emerged over the years as a result of court cases, OSEP memoranda, and findings of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, under which many children with disabilities receive educational services.

Dispute Resolution (DR) Procedures, Data Collection, and Caseloads This study reviews state databases and examines the ratio of dispute resolution cases per 10,000. A CADRE Publication

Dispute Resolution Activities: State Data Collection The Phase I study conducted as a part of NASDSE's subcontract with CADRE was a national screening of the current status of ADR data collection procedures carried out within the states. Following the completion of the Phase I study, a more in-depth study of state ADR data collection procedures was conducted within ten states.

Dispute Resolution Database Structure and Elements 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 necessary data elements and database structure(s). Participants from Illinois, Texas, Indiana, Maine, Idaho, Washington State, and the Western RRC assisted with this task. This paper describes the features of a system that can assist states to collect comprehensive management information across complaints, mediation, and due process hearings.

Due Process Hearing Extension Order This document is a sample of a Due Process Hearing Extension Order. It serves as a tool that states may choose to use to document extensions, length of extensions, and new dates for a hearing and decision that meets the timelines required by IDEA.

Due Process Hearing Systems Under the IDEA: A State-by-State Survey This article presents the results of a state-by-state survey of the hearing officer system and serves as a current "snapshot" of due process systems. Published in the Journal of Disability Policy Studies.

El Premio las Claves de Acceso Con el fin de apoyar el objetivo de CADRE de fomentar el más amplio acceso posible a la serie completa de opciones para la resolución de conflictos y para honrar aquellos individuos y organizaciones que construyen escuelas y comunidades que respetan las diferencias culturales, lingüísticas y de clase, es un placer anunciar el Premio las Claves de Acceso. View this document in English.

Exemplar State Profiles CADRE has profiled four exemplary state special education dispute resolution systems: Iowa, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin.

Five Steps to Choosing a Qualified Mediator Because no easy formula can predict mediator competence, the consumer must do some groundwork before selecting a mediator. First, you must understand the mediation process. After you understand the basics, you can use the following process to choose a mediator

Implementing the Mediation Requirements of IDEA '97 A resource packet designed to guide implementation of the mediation regulations under IDEA ‘97. Included are a self-assessment and checklist for state departments of education, a memo from OSEP Director Kenneth Warlick, and a question and answer document on the mediation requirements under Part B of the IDEA. This document was published in January 2001. More information on IDEA 2004.

Keys to Access There are a number of reasons for making mediation more accessible and responsive to families from culturally, economically and linguistically diverse backgrounds. This document is intended to provide educators with guidance that may help them understand why some families may not participate in mediation, and strategies for increasing the participation of families from diverse backgrounds. Most importantly, Keys to Access offers practical recommendations that school personnel, early intervention service providers, mediation providers, and families can use to develop the knowledge, positive attitudes, skills and strengths necessary for genuine collaboration. The results of these collaborative partnerships may be reflected in improved programs for children with disabilities. This document was published in November 1999. More information on IDEA 2004.

Maximizing Mediation This article suggests that the adoption of a maximizing mediation approach by the mediator is permissible and advised. There are no barriers to mediators moving beyond the world of barely sufficient processes and barely sufficient results to stimulate maximized processes and maximized results.

Mediating at the Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings The Maryland Office of Administrative Hearings provides special education mediation services to the State Department of Education, Division of Special Education/Early Intervention Services. This brief article spotlights the service and its recent success. For FY 2003, the office received 425 special education mediation requests. 298 cases went to mediation and 193 of those settled for an agreement rate of 65%.

Mediation: Through The Eyes Of The Mediator The core value in mediation is that the process provides the parties with an opportunity to negotiate, converse and explore options aided by a neutral third party, the mediator, to exhaustively determine if a settlement is possible. It is a process of empowerment of the parties to control their destiny in their dispute.

Michigan Special Education Mediation Program Receives Positive Evaluations Recent mediation participants completed an evaluation form that the Michigan Special Education Mediation Program (MSEMP) provides to all mediation participants. The results of these evaluations are compiled quarterly and used to assist program staff with maintaining high-quality mediation services for special education disputes. The evaluation asks several questions with short, prompted answers, as well as gives participants the opportunity to provide longer, written feedback. The article summarizes answers to key questions on evaluations received during the July 1, 2000 - March 31, 2001 time period from 66 mediation participants.

Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators These are the standards of mediation practice jointly defined by the American Bar Association (ABA), Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) and the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and are generally applicable to the mediation of legal disputes. The model standards of conduct for mediators are intended to perform three major functions: to serve as a guide for the conduct of mediators; to inform the mediating parties; and to promote public confidence in mediation as a process for resolving disputes.

National Dispute Resolution Use and Effectiveness Study CADRE partner, NASDSE has been systematically gathering dispute resolution information from SEAs to analyze formative (process) and summative (outcome) information on the use and effectiveness of conflict resolution procedures. The National Dispute Resolution Use and Effectiveness Study reviews previously published research, examines recently collected data, and makes important recommendations. A CADRE Publication. This document was published in September 2004. More information on IDEA 2004.

Optional IDEA Alternative Dispute Resolution This In-Depth Policy Analysis is the result of findings based on a survey sent to all special education units of state education agencies. The survey requested information about the use of 10 alternative dispute resolution processes not specifically required under IDEA. This publication is a joint product from Project Forum and CADRE.

Oregon Mediation Program Successful Thanks to Valerie Miller and Suzy Harris from the Oregon Department of Education for this data on outcomes related to special education mediation in Oregon.

Peer Mediation in Chautauqua County, N.Y. Schools Teaching conflict resolution to elementary, middle and high school students is as important to preparing tomorrow's workforce as their reading, writing, and math classes. In fact, the value and importance of the benefits derived from peer mediation programs - from the skills the young mediators gain to the overall impact the program has in school - parallels the values and benefits employers derive from a well-trained and skilled workforce.

Resolution Meetings - State Supports and Practices This brief analysis provides detail on the experience of eight states with Resolution Meetings. A joint effort of Project Forum at NASDSE and CADRE.

State ADR/Mediation Resource Directory This resource contains a listing of offices and organizations that offer expertise in mediation and other forms of alternate dispute resolution outside the arena of special education.

State Mediation Systems - A NASDSE Report This report is a brief analysis of the results of a survey of State Directors of Special Education on their state mediation systems. It was conducted as a follow-up to previous Project FORUM documents on this topic (Ahearn, 1997, Ahearn, 1994, Schrag, 1996). Responses to selected items of the survey are summarized in the attached table.

Team Based Conflict Resolution in Special Education The IDEA '97 regulations specify that the mediation states must offer when a due process hearing has been requested are to be conducted by a single mediator. Team conciliation is offered not as a process that satisfies these requirements but rather as one of many options that may be useful, in addition to those that are legally required, when parents and educators disagree. Conciliation may be of particular value when those disagreements include issues of culture, gender or class bias.

The Role of Attorneys in Special Education Mediation This paper examines the role of attorneys and to a lesser extent, advocates in special education mediation. It examines the positions held by both proponents and opponents of permitting attorneys and advocates to participate in special education mediation. It then considers the interests and concerns shared by advocates of the two opposing views. The paper concludes with practical recommendations that attempt to satisfy these common interests. This document was published in June 2001. More information on IDEA 2004.

Using Participant Feedback to Evaluate and Improve Quality in Mediation This resource guide presents an overview of mediation evaluation with a specific focus on how to make use of participant questionnaires in evaluating mediation programs. A CADRE Publication. This document was published in December 2002 and updated in August 2007. More information on IDEA 2004.

What Participants are Saying About Oregon’s Mediation Process A snapshot of the Oregon Department of Education, Office of Special Education survey of potential and actual mediation participants during 2002.

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