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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."

RAISE Article Details

Title: The impact of special education mediation on parent-school relationships.
Publication Date: September/October 2007
Authors: Nowell, B. L., & Salem, D. A.
Source: Remedial & Special Education
Volume #: 28       Issue: 5       Pages: 304-315
Abstract: Finding ways to productively manage conflict in a manner that protects parent—school relationships has become an issue of growing concern in special education. Special education mediation has been promoted as a valuable process, in part, because of its promise for resolving such conflicts in a way that prevents the escalation of adversarial relationships and fosters norms of collaboration among parents and schools. However, despite the growing interest in the impact of mediation on the continuing relationship between parents and schools, empirically, we know very little about the nature of its impact. This study begins to address this gap by qualitatively exploring how parents of special needs students perceive their participation in special education mediation to have affected their ongoing relationship with the school. The findings suggest that mediation has the ability to affect both the interpersonal relationship between parents and school personnel and parents' overall sense of efficacy in their ability to manage their relationship with the school. However, parents' stories indicate that this impact can be either positive or negative. Their stories also indicate that perceived follow-through on the mediation agreement has a significant influence on whether parent-school relationships are perceived to improve or deteriorate further after mediation. Implications for research and practice are discussed. (Abstract from author)
Categories: Research - Qualitative

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