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Special Education Mediation State Model Delaware Inter-American Summit on Conflict Resolution Education Cleveland, Ohio, USA March 14, 2007 Presented by.

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Presentation on theme: "Special Education Mediation State Model Delaware Inter-American Summit on Conflict Resolution Education Cleveland, Ohio, USA March 14, 2007 Presented by."— Presentation transcript:

1 Special Education Mediation State Model Delaware Inter-American Summit on Conflict Resolution Education Cleveland, Ohio, USA March 14, 2007 Presented by Fran Fletcher and Kathy Wian University of Delawares Conflict Resolution Program

2 About Delaware TOTAL 900,000 White 75% - Black 20% - Other 5% City of Wilmington 70,000 New Castle County 520,000 Kent County 140,000 Sussex County 170, Square Miles

3 Delaware Student Statistics 19 school districts 192 public schools 14 charter schools and a variety of public and private programs More than 120,000 public education students *51% have a learning disability (9,897) *11% have a cognitive impairment (2,193) *10% have another health impairment (1,934)

4 Conflict Resolution Program Established 1994 University of Delaware Self-sustaining office Provide dispute resolution services throughout DE –Education –State and Local Government –Nonprofits

5 CRP First Steps Conducted a statewide needs assessment re: dispute resolution in education Offered customized dispute resolution trainings, facilitated problem solving, mediation, strategic planning and organizational development. DOE first customers

6 The Collaboration University of Delawares Conflict Resolution Program and Delaware Department of Educations Exceptional Childrens Team

7 SPARC S pecial Education P artnership for the A micable R esolution of C onflict

8 SPARC The project supports addressing conflicts at the lowest possible level and build the capacity of parents and school personnel to address and resolve conflicts as they arise. Mediation Training IEP Facilitation

9 Delaware Hearing Statistics* Number of hearings requested & number of requests that were fully adjudicated: requests, 8 decisions requests, 4 decisions 2006-now - 17 requests, 2 decisions What happened to the rest? Mediation Negotiated settlements Voluntary or involuntary dismissals *Delaware Department of Education Statistics

10 Mediation Overview Mediation Voluntary Free Open to all Requests

11 Mediator Qualifications Complete the 18-hour SPARC basic mediation training or its equivalent from a qualified trainer. Complete the six-hour SPARC special education law workshop for hearing officers offered by DOE or an equivalent. Participate in six hours of instruction, annually, in mediation and/or special education law.

12 Mediator Qualifications Demonstrate knowledge in the laws and regulations relating to the provisions of special education and related services. Demonstrate effective mediation techniques with observation and feedback with an emphasis on facilitative process techniques and remain a neutral third party. Must not hold primary employment with a local or state education agency.

13 SPARC Mediation Statistics

14 Mediation Evaluation Actual Mediation Evaluation Results Responses = 151 Did this mediation result in an agreement between you and the other party? Yes (125) No ( 20 ) Somewhat ( 1 ) No Answer ( 5 ) Overall, how satisfied were you with the results of mediation? Very Satisfied (19) Satisfied (114) Neutral (7) Dissatisfied (5) Very Dissatisfied (1) Not Sure (3) No Response (2) Based on this experience, would you contact CRP and request mediation services for future special education disputes? Yes (122) No ( 2 ) Dont Know ( 1 ) Maybe ( 1 ) No Response ( 25 )

15 Research 2000 Enhancing the Collaborative Capacity of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) in Delaware Schools

16 Research Methodology Hired external consultant to work with CRP Focus group data from past SPARC training efforts Survey data from Special Education Supervisors Additional 6 months of school assessments in five school districts Observational and participant feedback data from IEP meetings

17 IEP Meeting Observation Technical Expertise Purpose/Goals of Meeting Neutral, Encouraging Language Student History/Performance Non-Verbals Relationship/Trust Use of the IEP Form Special Issues Conflicts/Impasse Questioning, Active Listening/Communication Greetings/Introductions Materials/Preparation Pace Participants Annual Goals/Objectives Post-Meeting Follow Up Action Planning Consensus Building/Decision Making Team Roles Room set up & Seating Mtg Debrief/Reflection/Eval A/V Resources Brainstorming Participation Formats

18 Research Findings While requests for due process & mediation are minimal, anecdotal evidence from schools, families & family advocates suggests that collaboration remains elusive in special education.

19 Research Findings Limitations to collaboration in the IEP process present themselves throughout the perceived legalistic quality of required forms & safeguards, abbreviated IEP meetings, attendance by general & special education teachers who are not brought into the process & meeting facilitators untrained in basic collaborative processes.

20 Research Findings Limitations are further exacerbated when families & advocates are distrustful of the people & processes involved with IEPs or simply uncomfortable with the process.

21 Ten Realistic Ways to Build Collaboration in Individualized Education Program (IEP) Meetings Training and coaching provided through the Special Education Partnership for the Amicable Resolution of Conflict (SPARC) a program of the Conflict Resolution Program in cooperation with the Delaware Department of Education

22 Nine Training Session Options Introduction to the Mediation Process Facilitation 101 Your Conflict Management Style Where do These Parents Come From? Resolving Difficult Dynamics and Conflict in IEPs Are You Hearing Me? Brainstorming and Problem Solving? Decision Making and Action Planning A/V and the IEP IEP Coaching

23 W hy would a room full of educated, caring professionals, who come together to focus on the welfare of a child, need a facilitator?

24 Resolving at the Lowest Level Issue Mediation IEP Facilitation Resolution Meeting Due Process Keeping the Team Intact

25 And, last but not least…. someone to manage the event.

26 May / May Not be an IEP Team Member

27 And the Facilitator is…. Internal? External? Advantages Neutral to the outcome Fresh set of eyes Addresses power imbalances Manages bad behavior and high emotion Disadvantages Role confusion/expectation No follow-up No control over participants or the system Advantages Knows team members Knows system Anticipates problems & resolve before meeting begins Disadvantages Knows team members Knows system You are an employee

28 Neutral Perspective Ask stupid questions Not tied to outcome Agenda is inclusive No dual roles Power Imbalances Deal with emotions Full participation Address bad behavior Advantages to taking the heat Additional Advantages of Using an External Facilitator

29 The External IEP Meeting Facilitator A member of the team, therefore, does not, suggest, impose or participate in team decisions or solutions A legal expert An advocate An arbitrator ~IS NOT~

30 Teams May Request a Facilitator When… History Communication Requested Apprehension Focus Multiple meetings

31 IEP Facilitator Primary responsibility is to the process of the meeting rather than the content or outcome.

32 Process vs. Content Process deals with… Communication Problem solving Participation Agenda items Gaining agreement Relationships Understanding Timing Content deals with… Evaluation Assessments Legal rights/the law Opinions Records Data Ideas Information


34 A fair and consistent process Cooperative participation occurs Communication improves Trust is Built Effective IEP is created Buy-in achieved Sustained IEP Benefits

35 Mediation vs. IEP Meeting Facilitation The differences are… The similarities are…

36 Overview Per Year University of Delaware

37 Impact on DP & Mediation University of Delaware

38 Challenges School District Repeat Requests Understanding Role Realistic Time Frame Asking for Assistance School Requests Parent Repeat Requests Understanding Role Realistic Time Frame Asking for Assistance Parent Requests Wait for Crisis Team Preparation Supporting All Cant Change Follow Up

39 IEP Meeting Facilitation Evaluations Actual IEP Meeting Facilitation Evaluation Results Responses = 85 Goals of the meeting Poor 1= ( 2 ) 2= ( 6 ) 3= ( 11 ) 4=( 27 ) 5 = ( 39 ) Good (Conflicting; unclear; (Clear, shared by all, diverse, unacceptable) endorsed with enthusiasm) Content of the meeting Poor 1= ( 5 ) 2= ( 9 ) 3= ( 16 ) 4= ( 26 ) 5= ( 29 ) Good (Not instructional; I did not (I learned a lot; was learn much; not informative; informative; Ill be able to content; to use the content; content too much process; not appropriate to our needs) enough content) Relationship among meeting participants Poor 1= ( 6 ) 2= ( 9 ) 3= ( 22 ) 4= ( 23 ) 5= ( 25 ) Good (My relationship with them is the (Our relationship is much same as before; I feel antagonistic improved; I trust them more toward many of them; I dont than I did prior to the session; trust them; there is little I feel I got to know & under- potential for a future relationship) stand many of them better; there is a good potential for the future)

40 Next Logical Step Training school and district personnel to run more effective IEP meetings.

41 IEP Training Intended Outcome: Trained personnel would become in- house resource = share skills with team members = facilitate challenging meetings Outcome: Trained personnel did not have time to incorporate = no training occurred = limited time to travel between schools = changed jobs

42 The New Hot Topic 10/50

43 Designing the System Volunteers Mediators Retired School Personnel DOE Grants Districts Parents $ Advocates

44 Lessons Learned Clear Policies & Procedures Intervening Agency How to Fund Requests Districts Have Financial Investment Advocacy Groups People Just Want To Be Heard

45 IDEIA 2004 Resolution Meeting: 1

46 Policy Supports & Challenges Informal Policy Supports DOE Staff and Director Formal Supports IDEA NCLB Challenges New Federal and State Mandates

47 Thank You Conflict Resolution Program University of Delaware 177 Graham Hall Newark, DE Website: Fran FletcherKathy Wian

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