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Mediation

Special education mediation is a voluntary process in which parents of students with disabilities and school district personnel meet with a specially trained, impartial individual (i.e., a mediator) to work out differences in a collaborative way. The school district must make mediation available to allow the parent and the school district to resolve disputes that may arise relating to the identification, evaluation, educational placement, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to a student with a disability or a student suspected of having a disability. Because mediation is voluntary, both the school district and the parent must agree to participate in the process. The mediator, who is trained in effective mediation techniques, helps the participants listen to each other’s views and then assists in developing mutually satisfactory solutions.

Although mediation cannot guarantee specific results, the mediation process has demonstrated several benefits. Mediation can be a less expensive and less time-consuming method of dispute resolution compared to due process hearings. Because mediation is voluntary and the parties have the flexibility to devise their own solutions, mediation may result in written agreements where parties have an increased commitment to, and ownership of, the agreement. The written, signed agreement is enforceable in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a district court of the United States.

Mediation is arranged through the school district with a Community Dispute Resolution Center (CDRC). To determine the closest CDRC, please see the New York State Unified Court System's list of local Community Dispute Resolution Centers.

Helping Parents and School Districts Become More Effective Partners: Special Education Mediation is a questions and answers document that clarifies the mediation process and how parents and school districts can use this process to work together in resolving special education issues in a collaborative way. In addition, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) has developed a sample mediation form to assist parents in describing disagreements and accessing special education mediation to resolve disputes. State law requires that a request for mediation be in writing. Although it is not required to use this form, it will assist all parties to better understand the issues in dispute and the proposed resolution.


Request for Special Education Mediation Form

Questions regarding the use of this form or the mediation process may be directed to the Special Education Due Process Unit at (518) 473-0170 or to specedih@nysed.gov.