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IEP Issues - Mediation & Dispute Resolution

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Thinking About Mediation?  Call 1-800-8RESOLV (1-800-873-7658) to be connected to your local dispute resolution/mediation center.  Don't wait for battle lines to be drawn. In Michigan, trained mediators are available to help parents and schools communicate effectively in IEPs -- and their services are FREE! Don't wait until due process. As soon as you find yourself having communication difficulties with your child's school or district, ask the trained mediators to help. Michigan's Special Education Mediation Project (MSEMP) is run by the Michigan Supreme Court's Administrative Office. The costs of the program are paid for by a grant from the Michigan Department of Education.


The MSEMP provides services in the earliest stages of intervention and educational planning and beyond.

Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) and Individualized Educational Program (IEP) facilitation. Facilitation can help the parties develop the best intervention plan or educational program for the circumstances. A neutral facilitator helps the participants work through communication issues so the participants can focus on and resolve the issues. A successful facilitation can result in a signed IFSP or IEP agreeable to all parties.

Mediation. Mediation aids the parties in resolving disputes that may arise from IFSP or IEP implementation. Mediation is voluntary and confidential. The neutral mediator fosters a cooperative discussion. The parties alone make the final decisions. If they cannot reach a decision, the parties can move on to the hearing process. A successful mediation can result in a written, signed agreement that can be incorporated into an IFSP or IEP.

Learning collaborative communication and dispute resolution techniques can make parents, educators, and service providers more effective in planning and decision making. Workshops can be adapted to the particular needs of organizations, staff, or parent groups.

Outreach. The more people know about facilitation and mediation services, the more they can benefit from them. Presentations can be made around the state, supported by materials that explain the benefits of collaborative methods.

The MSEMP services are provided through the Community Dispute Resolution Program (CDRP), a statewide network of conflict resolution centers with staff, facilitators, and mediators trained by the MSEMP.


CADRE Guide: Facilitated IEP Meetings: An Emerging Practice (PDF) - This guide provides an introduction to IEP facilitation for parents and other family members to help orient them to this emerging practice, and discusses the use of external IEP facilitators who are not directly affiliated with the team, or who may be independent of both the team and the school district. Note: Facilitated IEP's use a trained facilitator to help parties communicate effectively and resolve issues productively during the IEP.


A Michigan Parent Shares Her Mediation Experience - click here.


More Dispute Resolution & Mediation Resources - click here.


CADRE LogoCADRE, the National Center on Dispute Resolution and Special Education, offers a web site that has a wealth of information on issues related to resolving disagreements between family members and educators/service providers related to special education.  Click the logo on the left to visit their website.

U.S. GAO Report: Dispute Resolution Under IDEA - Special Education: Numbers of Formal Disputes Are Generally Low and States Are Using Mediation and Other Strategies to Resolve Conflicts. "The four states we visited reported that disputes between school districts and families have often centered on fundamental issues of identifying students’ need for special education, the development and implementation of their individualized education programs (IEP), and the educational setting in which they were placed."


FOCUS on Results is now available at the Center for Educational Networking website.  FOCUS on Results are brief guidance and technical assistance documents published periodically by the Michigan Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Early Intervention Services (OSE/EIS) to keep stakeholders up-to-date on current changes in rules and regulations, dispute resolution, Individualized Education Programs (IEP), alternate assessment, accountability, continuous improvement, early childhood and other valuable and relevant topics.  The first set of issues focuses on dispute resolution. To view the documents, click the link above and select Dispute Resolution from the menu of topics. 


Would you like to know more about Mediation in Michigan?  An Explanation of Special Education Mediation From the Oakland County Mediation Center - click here.


Considering Mediation for Special Ed Disputes: A School Administrator's Perspective

Special Education Mediation: A Guide for Parents

Special Education Mediation: A Guide for Parents (Spanish)

Special Education Mediation: A Guide for Parents (Hmong)

Implementing the Mediation Requirements of IDEA '97


CADRE Special Education Mediation Services - This database is provided for web site users seeking basic information about their state's special education and early intervention mediation systems. Here you will find contact information for state divisions of special education and early intervention, mediation coordinators, and mediation service providers. Additionally, you will find information about accessing and using your state's mediation program. For more information on mediation in special education, contact CADRE: Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education,, or call 541-686-5060.



A few weeks ago someone posted about mediation services (1-800-8RESOLVE). I called and we had mediation Thursday afternoon for 3.5 hours. Some of you may be curious about this so I thought I would write a short report. There is no charge to school or parent.

Our mediators were from Gaylord as we are in their geographical district. We had 2. One chaired the meeting and the other one has been specifically trained in special ed. I felt the first one really knew special ed also. I thought they were both very good.

They kept the meeting civil and asked questions to clarify the situation and other questions to get people thinking. The questions were very good and showed they understood more than the basics of special ed and in my case behavior management, which is our sticking point.

It is confidential. They write up the agreement and they are responsible to see it is carried out. They offered to come back for the IEP as facilitators, not mediators, so that would not be confidential.

Based on this experience with these 2 mediators I would strongly recommend it.

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