Reaching Agreement newsletter is published by the Michigan
Special Education Mediation Program. It is published twice a year
to inform the special education and early intervention communities
about activities and resources available for resolving disputes.
Mediation? Call 1-800-8RESOLV
(1-800-873-7658) to be connected to your local dispute
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.
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.
∑ Training. 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. The directory below provides a list of
centers so you can contact the appropriate center directly by
phone or email. Here is a website where you can find out
what's available in your own county, along with contact
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.
Parent Shares Her Mediation Experience -
Dispute Resolution &
Resources - click here.
CADRE, 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.
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 studentsí need for special
education, the development and implementation of their individualized
education programs (IEP), and the educational setting in which they
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 -
Considering Mediation for Special
Ed Disputes: A School
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
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,
www.directionservice.org/cadre, or call 541-686-5060.
A MICHIGAN PARENT SHARES HER MEDIATION EXPERIENCE
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
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
Based on this experience with these 2 mediators I would strongly