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Special Education Mediation State Model. Inter-American Summit on Conflict Resolution Education Cleveland, Ohio, USA. Delaware. March 14, 2007 Presented by Fran Fletcher and Kathy Wian University of Delaware’s Conflict Resolution Program. About Delaware. TOTAL POPULATION @ 900,000

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special education mediation state model

Special Education MediationState Model

Inter-American Summit on Conflict Resolution Education

Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Delaware

March 14, 2007

Presented by Fran Fletcher and Kathy Wian

University of Delaware’s Conflict Resolution Program

about delaware
About Delaware

TOTAL POPULATION @ 900,000

White 75% - Black 20% - Other 5%

City of Wilmington 70,000►

New Castle County 520,000►

Kent County 140,000►

Sussex County 170,000►

2040 Square Miles

delaware student statistics
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)

conflict resolution program
Conflict Resolution Program

Established 1994

University of Delaware

Self-sustaining office

Provide dispute resolution

services throughout DE

  • Education
  • State and Local Government
  • Nonprofits
crp first steps
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
the collaboration
The Collaboration

University of Delaware’s

Conflict Resolution Program

and

Delaware Department of Education’s

Exceptional Children’s Team

sparc
SPARC

Special Education

Partnership for the

Amicable

Resolution of

Conflict

sparc8
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.

delaware hearing statistics
Delaware Hearing Statistics*

Number of hearings requested & number of requests that were fully adjudicated:

2004-2005 - 32 requests, 8 decisions

2005-2006 - 11 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

mediation overview

Free

Mediation

Voluntary

Open to all Requests

Mediation Overview
mediator qualifications
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.
mediator qualifications12
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.
mediation evaluation
Mediation Evaluation

1996-2006

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 ) Don’t Know ( 1 ) Maybe ( 1 ) No Response ( 25 )

research
Research

2000

“Enhancing the Collaborative

Capacity of Individualized

Education Programs (IEPs)

in Delaware Schools”

research methodology
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
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

IEP Meeting Observation
research findings
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.

research findings19
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.

research findings20
Research Findings

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

ten realistic ways to build collaboration in individualized education program iep meetings

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

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

Nine Training Session Options
slide23
Why would a room full of educated, caring professionals, who come together to focus on the welfare of a child, need a facilitator?
resolving at the lowest level
Resolving at the Lowest Level

IEP Facilitation

Resolution Meeting

Due Process

Keeping the Team Intact

slide25

And, last but not least….

someone to manage the event.

slide26

May / May Not

be an IEP Team Member

and the facilitator is
And the Facilitator is….

External?

Internal?

Advantages

Neutral to the outcome

Fresh set of eyes

Addresses power imbalances

Manages “bad” behavior

and high emotion

Advantages

Knows team members

Knows system

Anticipates problems & resolve

before meeting begins

Disadvantages

Role confusion/expectation

No follow-up

No control over participants

or the system

Disadvantages

Knows team members

Knows system

You are an employee

slide28

Additional Advantages of Using an External Facilitator

  • 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”
the external iep meeting facilitator
The External IEP Meeting Facilitator

~IS NOT~

  • A member of the team, therefore,

does not, suggest, impose or participate in

team decisions or solutions

  • A legal expert
  • An advocate
  • An arbitrator
teams may request a facilitator when
Teams May Request a Facilitator When…
  • History
  • Communication
  • Requested
  • Apprehension
  • Focus
  • Multiple meetings
iep facilitator
IEP Facilitator

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

process vs content
Processdeals with…

Communication

Problem solving

Participation

Agenda items

Gaining agreement

Relationships

Understanding

Timing

Contentdeals with…

Evaluation

Assessments

Legal rights/the law

Opinions

Records

Data

Ideas

Information

Processvs.Content
facilitator qualities
Facilitator Qualities

EXCELLENT COMMUNICATION SKILLS

FACILITATIVE “LEADERSHIP” STYLE

PATIENT AND COMPOSED

OBJECTIVE AND NEUTRAL

slide34

Buy-in achieved

Effective IEP is created

Trust is Built

Communication improves

Cooperative participation occurs

A fair and consistent process

Benefits

Sustained IEP

mediation vs iep meeting facilitation
Mediation vs. IEP Meeting Facilitation
  • The differences are…
  • The similarities are…
overview per year

University of Delaware

Overview Per Year

2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-

impact on dp mediation

University of Delaware

Impact on DP & Mediation

2000-01 2001-02 2002-03 2003-04 2004-05 2005-06 2006-

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

Challenges
  • Wait for Crisis
  • Team Preparation
  • Supporting All
  • Can’t Change
  • Follow Up
iep meeting facilitation evaluations
IEP Meeting Facilitation Evaluations

2000-2005

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; I’ll 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 don’t 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)

next logical step
Next Logical Step

Training school and district personnel to run more effective IEP meetings.

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

IEP Training
designing the system
Designing the System

Volunteers

DOE

Parents

$

Retired School

Personnel

Grants

Districts

Mediators

Advocates

lessons learned
Lessons Learned
  • Clear Policies & Procedures
  • Intervening Agency
  • How to Fund Requests
  • Districts Have Financial Investment
  • Advocacy Groups
  • People Just Want To Be Heard
ideia 2004
IDEIA 2004

Resolution Meeting:

1

policy supports challenges
Policy Supports & Challenges

Informal Policy Supports

  • DOE Staff and Director

Formal Supports

  • IDEA
  • NCLB

Challenges

  • New Federal and State Mandates
thank you
Thank You

Conflict Resolution Program

University of Delaware

177 Graham Hall

Newark, DE 19716

Website: www.ipa.udel.edu/crp

Fran Fletcher Kathy Wian

302-831-6812 302-831-2927

FranF@udel.eduKWian@udel.edu