Mediation is a voluntary process for parents and districts to meet to discuss their concerns with the help of a trained, neutral mediator. Mediation gives parents and districts the chance to resolve their special education concerns on their own. There is no cost for the mediation services. Mediation may not be used to delay or deny a parent’s right under IDEA Part B, including the right to ask for a due process hearing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who provides mediation services?
OSPI contracts with a company called Sound Options Group to provide mediation services to parents and districts. Sound Options uses mediators who are trained in conflict resolution techniques and help parties communicate to focus on problem solving. The mediators are neutral third parties and do not act as advocates for either parents or school districts. They also have training in state and federal special education law and regulations.
What does a mediation session look like?
During a mediation session, the mediator works with the parties to:
- Clarify the issues in dispute and set an agenda of items to be discussed,
- Resolve conflicts, and
- Develop terms of an agreement between the parties, if an agreement can be reached.
The parties in mediation are parents and districts, and either party may invite other people to participate in the mediation.
Am I required to participate in mediation?
No, mediation is a voluntary process and a parent or district may refuse to mediate.
Is mediation confidential?
Mediation negotiations and the conversations during mediation are confidential. They may not be used as evidence in a due process hearing, citizen complaint, or other court proceeding.
If an agreement is reached as a result of mediation, the agreement is not confidential. The mediation agreement will be in writing and signed by both parties. The parties, Sound Options, and OSPI will be given a copy of the mediation agreement.
If we reach an agreement, how will it be enforced?
The parent and district are expected to do the things they agreed to do in the mediation agreement. If a parent believes the district is not implementing an agreement, they may file a file a citizen complaint or file a court action in state or federal court. A district may enforce a mediation agreement by filing a court action in state or federal court.
How do I request a mediation session or get more information?
Contact Sound Options Group at 800-692-2540 or 206-842-2298 (Seattle)
Washington State relay service numbers: 800-833-6388 (TDD) or 800-833-6384 (voice)
Who can I contact if the issue involves discrimination, or other matters that are not addressed through IDEA?
Visit Other Resources and Organizations for more information.
This information is intended to provide guidance about requirements under IDEA Part B. It does not address every requirement contained in chapter 392-172A WAC and it is not legal advice. The intent is to support and not replace careful study of the IDEA and Washington state regulations implementing the IDEA.