Saturday, October 17, 2015
Writing in Special Education Dispute Resolution #SpEdDecisions
Writing is a big part of the job of professionals who work in special education dispute resolution. It is a topic that is frequently a part of the trainings that I conduct for IDEA hearing officers, mediators, complaint investigators, etc. This topic is very important to me.
Each dispute resolution method may require some document to be written up at the end of the process. Where mediation or the resolution meeting results in a settlement, a written agreement is necessary. A state complaint investigator concludes the process with a written report. A due process hearing officer writes a decision. In each case the written product is critical to the dispute resolution process.
The decision, report or agreement is the only portion of our work that many people ever see. Our written documents should reflect well upon us; they are our professional product. It is extremely important, therefore, that our decisions and reports be well reasoned and that all documents be understandable, clear and well written. They are the conclusion of the dispute resolution process, and, accordingly, are extremely important to the parties, and the child with a disability. Reviewing courts and officers receive no other communications from us. Our decisions and agreements represent us to the rest of the world. Our reputations as dispute resolution professionals depend upon high quality written products.
We will be using the weekly question to elicit input from our readers on the quality of the wring that they have seen in special ed decisions, complaint investigation reports, etc, as well as the language used in mediation and resolution agreements. Please stay tuned.