Request for Mediation to Resolve Special Education Disagreements
Resource Type: Self-advocacy Tools
Focus Area: Ensuring Equal Access
Parents who disagree with special education decisions may also pursue a dispute resolution process called “mediation.” This is a voluntary process, and both the school and parent must agree to participate. Parents may invite other participants to help with the mediation process. If a parent chooses to bring an attorney with them to mediation, the school may also bring an attorney. If the parent chooses to participate in mediation without an attorney, the school cannot bring an attorney either. Mediation can address any special education disagreement, such as whether a school is following a child’s IEP or special education laws, whether a child’s current IEP is appropriate and meets a child’s needs in the least restrictive environment, or whether a child is being discriminated on the basis of their recognized disabilities.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education’s Office for Dispute Resolution (ODR) assigns a trained person called a mediator to lead the discussion, usually within seven to ten days after a request is made. The mediator does not work for the school and is trained to help people resolve special education disagreements. Nothing said in mediation can be used in future special education hearings or court cases, but the mediation agreement itself can be used. If an agreement is reached in the mediation, it is written down and signed by both the school and parent. If the school doesn’t follow through on its end of the agreement, additional action can be taken to enforce the agreement in court or through other special education dispute resolution processes.
Online Form: You are able to submit a request for mediation directly to ODR using their online form.
PDF Form: You can also complete a PDF form to make the request. If you use the PDF form, you should attach this Request for Mediation to the Notice of Recommended Education Placement given to you by your child’s school when you return it, in addition to checking the Mediation box on the NOREP. If you were not given a NOREP, send a copy of the complaint letter to the principal and special education director of your child’s school. You must submit the tool to both your child’s school and Pennsylvania’s Office for Dispute Resolution by mail, fax, or email at: 6340 Flank Drive, Suite 600, Harrisburg, PA 17112-2764. ODR’s fax number is 717-657-5983, and the e-mail address is [email protected].
You can also read more about how to resolve special education disagreements here.Download PDF