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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."

Main Statute for Mediation Under IDEA 2004, Part B (Children and Youth Age 3 and Older).

Sec. 615 Procedural Safeguards.

`(e) MEDIATION- `(1) IN GENERAL- Any State educational agency or local educational agency that receives assistance under this part shall ensure that procedures are established and implemented to allow parties to disputes involving any matter, including matters arising prior to the filing of a complaint pursuant to subsection (b)(6), to resolve such disputes through a mediation process.

`(2) REQUIREMENTS- Such procedures shall meet the following requirements:

`(A) The procedures shall ensure that the mediation process--
`(i) is voluntary on the part of the parties;
`(ii) is not used to deny or delay a parent's right to a due process hearing under subsection (f), or to deny any other rights afforded under this part; and
`(iii) is conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.

`(B) OPPORTUNITY TO MEET WITH A DISINTERESTED PARTY- A local educational agency or a State agency may establish procedures to offer to parents and schools that choose not to use the mediation process, an opportunity to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party who is under contract with--
`(i) a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in the State established under section 671 or 672; or
`(ii) an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity, to encourage the use, and explain the benefits, of the mediation process to the parents.

`(C) LIST OF QUALIFIED MEDIATORS- The State shall maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.

`(D) COSTS- The State shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of meetings described in subparagraph (B).

`(E) SCHEDULING AND LOCATION- Each session in the mediation process shall be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held in a location that is convenient to the parties to the dispute.

`(F) WRITTEN AGREEMENT- In the case that a resolution is reached to resolve the complaint through the mediation process, the parties shall execute a legally binding agreement that sets forth such resolution and that--
`(i) states that all discussions that occurred during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding;
`(ii) is signed by both the parent and a representative of the agency who has the authority to bind such agency; and
`(iii) is enforceable in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States.

`(G) MEDIATION DISCUSSIONS- Discussions that occur during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding.

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