Friday, March 4, 2011

The Special Education Hearing Business is Booming

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The special education due process hearing business is booming.  Maybe it is counter-cyclical, but I'm getting a lot of hearings.  Right now I have at least one hearing scheduled in each of the four jurisdictions where I serve as a hearing officer.  That is pretty rare.

Yet I have had only one mediation in the last month.  I enjoy mediations a lot more.  I believe strongly that mediation is a better way to go.  Mediation, unlike many of the other dispute resolutions options available to parents and school districts who disagree about the education of a child with a disability, is uniquely able to work on repairing the all important relationship issues. 

It takes more than a village to raise a child; it takes a whole nation of caring and committed partners.  Education of a child has to be a collaboration.  When the relationship between parents and school personnel is poisoned, the child suffers.  Enter, mediation!

I have heard stories that the quality of mediators varies from state to state.  Although all of the mediators I have met are very impressive, I have likely only met the most committed, the best of the good ones.  But I have heard this complaint many times.  Training of mediators, like hearing officers, takes resources.  It costs money and it takes time.  In the current political, anti spending environment, money is scarce,  But the training of both mediators and hearing officers is critical to the kids with disabilities who we all care so much about.  (I admit that I have a bias here; I train hearing officers and mediators, but I stand by my argument despite my obvious bias.)

Good news for both mediators and hearing officers: CADRE, the Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education, is having one of their fantastic conferences.  It will be the last week in October and I will provide more details later.  Get ready for a true learning experience.



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