Special Education Mediation
What is the role of a special education mediator ?
A special education mediator plays a vital role in facilitating productive discussions and negotiations between parents or guardians and school districts in matters concerning special education services. Their primary objective is to foster open communication, promote understanding, and seek mutually agreeable solutions for the benefit of the student with special needs. By serving as a neutral third party, the mediator helps to create a supportive environment where all parties can express their concerns, explore options, and work towards a fair and equitable resolution. Their expertise lies in guiding the mediation process, maintaining a balanced dialogue, and assisting in the development of customized educational plans that meet the unique requirements of the student. Ultimately, the special education mediator strives to promote collaboration, address conflicts, and ensure the best educational outcomes for students with special needs.
Procedures for special education mediation in Georgia:
*The rule for formal complaints can be found in the State Education Rules at 160-4-7-.12 Dispute Resolution.
Either the parent and the student, or the system may request mediation.
The first step is to ask the other party if they are willing to mediate the disputed issues.
If a family member is requesting mediation, contact the system’s special education office and they will complete the request for mediation and submit it to the Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE).
The mediation request is faxed to Georgia Department of Education (GaDOE) Special Education Services and Supports, (770) 344-4458 or (404)-651-6457.
Upon receipt, Special Education Services and Supports assigns the request to a mediator.
The mediator will contact both parties to develop the timeline, set up the meeting location and begin preparation.
Mediation will occur at a location and time convenient to both parties.
Once parties have agreed to a date and location, participants should be prepared to spend most of the day in mediation.
If a resolution is reached, the mediator will facilitate the agreement and all parties will sign the mediation agreement.
After mediation, both parties are expected to carry out the activities they agreed to during the mediation as outlined in the agreement since this is a legally binding document.
If mediation is being requested as part of a due process hearing, the mediation will not delay nor deny the right to a due process hearing. However, discussions during mediation cannot be used as evidence in any due process hearing or civil proceeding.
What are some benefits of special education mediation?
Utilizing mediation in special education issues offers several significant benefits for all parties involved. Here are some key advantages:
Collaboration and Communication: Mediation provides a structured platform for open and constructive dialogue between parents, educators, and other relevant stakeholders. It promotes collaboration, encourages active listening, and fosters a cooperative atmosphere, allowing for better understanding and improved communication among all parties.
Empowerment and Participation: Mediation empowers parents and guardians by involving them directly in the decision-making process regarding their child's special education. It ensures that their perspectives, concerns, and aspirations are heard and taken into account, promoting a sense of ownership and active participation in the resolution of the issues at hand.
Customized Solutions: Mediation focuses on finding individualized solutions that meet the unique needs of the student. It allows for creative problem-solving, exploring various options, and tailoring educational plans that consider the specific strengths, challenges, and preferences of the child. This personalized approach can lead to more effective and satisfactory outcomes.
Cost and Time Efficiency: Mediation is typically a faster and less expensive alternative to formal dispute resolution methods, such as due process hearings or litigation. By resolving issues through mediation, parties can avoid lengthy legal processes and associated expenses, allowing resources to be directed towards the student's education and support services instead.
Preservation of Relationships: Mediation aims to maintain positive relationships between parents, educators, and school administrators, even during times of disagreement. By focusing on mutual understanding and cooperation, it helps prevent the escalation of conflicts and the breakdown of trust, allowing parties to work together harmoniously in the best interests of the student.
Emotional Support: Mediation provides a supportive environment where parents and guardians can express their concerns, emotions, and frustrations regarding their child's special education. The mediator facilitates respectful and empathetic communication, helping to alleviate emotional stress and foster a sense of validation and understanding.
Overall, mediation in special education issues offers a constructive and inclusive approach that prioritizes the best interests of the student, promotes collaboration, and seeks customized solutions while preserving relationships and minimizing costs and time investment.
How do I request a special education mediation?
To complete a Special Education Mediation Request Form, please click here or contact the Georgia Special Education Help Desk via phone at 404-656-3963 or email at SPEDHelpDesk@doe.k12.ga.us.
In this feature, "Lawyer Monthly" featured experienced special education litigator Nicole Hull, who explores the struggles faced by children and families during the litigation process and how her practice works to achieve the best possible outcome for those with no other recourse through the use of dispute resolution.