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Resolving Education Disputes. Scott F. Johnson. About Me. Professor of Law at Concord Law School Hearing Officer with NH Dept. of Education NHEdLaw, LLC www.nhedlaw.com Education Law Resource Center www.edlawrc.com. Overview.

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Presentation Transcript
about me
About Me
  • Professor of Law at Concord Law School
  • Hearing Officer with NH Dept. of Education
  • NHEdLaw, LLC

www.nhedlaw.com

  • Education Law Resource Center www.edlawrc.com
overview
Overview
  • Talk primarily about basic ways to resolve disputes under IDEA
  • Talk about some changes in IDEIA
  • Tips for trying a case
  • Talk about some specific mediation approaches and ways to resolve disputes
  • This PowerPoint is available at www.nhedlaw.com
ideia
IDEIA
  • Will cover three ways to resolve disputes: neutral evaluation, mediation, due process/court.
  • Some changes to dispute resolution in IDEIA
  • Mostly in the area relating to due process hearings in terms of process and notice.
disputes
Disputes
  • Can arise at any time during the special education process:
    • Referral, evaluation, eligibility, IEP, placement, delivery of services
  • Try to resolve at local level
  • Parents or school can request mediation, neutral evaluation or due process.
  • Schools can also request facilitated IEP meeting.
mediation
Mediation
  • Parties try to resolve differences with the help of a trained, neutral third party
  • Confidential
  • Provided at no cost to the parties
  • If agree, becomes binding, written agreement that is enforceable in court
  • Different methods can be used to help resolve disputes (discussed in detail in a minute)
ideia7
IDEIA
  • Now requires states to offer mediation at the outset
  • Can request just mediation or mediation and due process
  • NH has offered it for sometime now and schedules it when a hearing is requested
due process
Due process
  • Adversarial proceeding
  • Witnesses, attorneys, hearing officer
  • Parties have certain rights defined by statute in terms of presenting evidence, cross-examining witnesses, establishing a record and appealing.
  • Hearing officer makes a decision
  • Loser can appeal to state or federal court
  • Attorney’s fees
ideia10
IDEIA
  • New law now requires the parties to have a “resolution meeting” before going to hearing when parent requests due process.
  • Must happen in 15 days of request for hearing.
  • Like an IEP meeting, but a person with decision-making authority to resolve the dispute must attend.
  • Discuss the request for due process and school is given a chance to resolve the issues.
ideia11
IDEIA
  • If agree, written settlement agreement
  • Buyers remorse for 3 days – both sides
  • School attorneys cannot attend unless parent attorney attends
  • Parties can waive the meeting requirement by agreement or substitute mediation for it
  • If can’t agree go to hearing or mediation/neutral evaluation
ideia12
IDEIA
  • Law requires parties to be more specific in their requests for due process
  • Can’t raise things that were not in the request
  • Other party can ask for more information if request not sufficient – sufficiency hearings
  • Idea is to put parties on notice of the issues to be addressed at hearing
neutral evaluation
Neutral evaluation
  • Opinion from hearing officer about strengths and weaknesses
  • Present limited evidence in writing and make arguments.
  • Hearing officer makes recommendation on how they would rule. Parties can accept or reject.
  • Not bound if reject
  • Process is confidential
mediation approaches
Mediation Approaches

Positional negotiation

  • Develop a position and insist the other person agree to it.
  • Start at an extreme and work towards the middle
  • Start near actual position and hold until the other person comes close enough to it
positional negotiation
Positional negotiation
  • Involves strength and weaknesses of the case.
  • Each side attacks the other’s position and case.
  • Threaten action if other person does not come to your position.
mediation approaches19
Mediation Approaches

Problem Solving Approach

  • View things as a shared problem to be resolved by both sides.
  • More work.
  • Can produce a better, longer lasting outcome.
problem solving approach
Problem Solving Approach

Seven Elements

  • Relationship between the parties
  • Communication between the parties
  • Each party’s Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)
  • Interests of the parties
  • Creative options
  • Standards of Legitimacy
  • Commitment
relationships
Relationships
  • Perhaps the most important part
  • Working on it has its own intrinsic value and corollary benefits
  • Treat others with respect
  • Work on the relationship
common relationship builders
Common relationship builders
  • Bring food and drinks to meetings
  • Be courteous
  • Don’t retaliate
  • Don’t personalize
  • Don’t blame
  • Don’t yell
  • Express feelings but calmly
scott s crazy ideas
Scott’s Crazy Ideas
  • Try to get to know the person.
  • Meet outside of school and do something unrelated to special education.
  • Invite the other person to do something with a project, school committee or outside of school group or committee.
communication
Communication
  • All participants have to really listen.
  • Active listening
  • Acknowledge things you agree with
  • Clarify and confirm what speaker said
  • Empathize
batna
BATNA
  • Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement.
  • What you could obtain without an agreement from the other person.
  • Figure out the BATNA of others that are involved.
  • Both sides want to work to an agreement that is better then their BATNA.
interests of the parties
Interests of the Parties
  • Have to get to the underlying concerns.
  • What the person “really wants.”
  • Have to figure it out for all involved.
  • Not always the specific solution on the table.
  • That might just be the position.

For example, an out of district placement could be an interest in ensuring a child reads.

creative solutions
Creative Solutions
  • Not always obvious at first
  • Brainstorm
    • Don’t evaluate
    • Don’t attach to a suggestion to early
  • Talk through possible solutions with pros and cons
  • Look for the solution that is a mutual gain for all involved.
legitimacy
Legitimacy
  • Interests and options must be legitimate.
  • Something the system and process can provide
  • Bounds of legitimacy depend on the situation.
  • With special education some of those bounds are legal ones.
  • Others are fairness, reasonableness and the interests of the parties within their legal and ethical boundaries.
commitment
Commitment
  • Occurs at the end
  • Articulate precisely what each person is committing to.
  • Works well with settlement agreement process.
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