Sunday, August 11, 2013

Dispute Resolution in Special Education

Seal of the United States Department of Education
Seal of the United States Department of Education (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The subfield of special ed law that I work in the most is dispute resolution.  This involves disagreements between parents and school districts over the education of a child with a disability.  It can involve mediation, due process hearings and subsequent court cases, state complaints- more options than are usually available. The web of options and the subtle differences often make dispute resolution systems difficult to navigate. The amount of caselaw and regulatory guidance in this area is very large.

I had the opportunity to have a meeting with the two top dispute resolution experts at the federal Office of Special Education Programs last week during the IDEA Leadership Conference.  It was very productive and useful for me.  It really helps me to advise states and hearing officers and mediators to know what they are thinking. I thank them for the meeting.

Also at the Leadership Conference, OSEP explained in detail the new Questions & Answers regulatory document on Dispute Resolution during a concurrent session.  It is quite clear that both dispute resolution in specific and compliance in general will continue to be very important as OSEP transitions to its new results driven accountability monitoring system.  You can (and probably should) read the new Q & A document here.

Speaking of dispute resolution, I'll be expanding my horizons this week by attending a training in IEP Facilitation.  (Insert your own joke about my needing other training here). The idea is to solve disputes further upstream by having an impartial person facilitate a potentially difficult IEP team meeting before all the litigation stuff happens.  You can learn a lot more about IEP Facilitation and dispute resolution on the excellent CADRE website.

What questions do you have about dispute resolution in special ed?
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