“When a request for mediation is received by the OSEP and both parties have agreed to mediation, a representative of the OSEP will schedule a mediation conference within 15 calendar days of receipt of the request. The mediation activities will be concluded within 30 days of receipt of the request.
When a request for a due process hearing is received by the OSEP and the parties have agreed to mediation in place of the resolution session, a mediation conference will be scheduled within 15 calendar days of receipt of the request. The mediation activities will be concluded within 30 days of receipt of the request. For an expedited due process hearing, a mediation conference will be scheduled within seven (7) days of the request and the mediation activities will be concluded within 15 days.
The purpose of mediation is to discuss the issues and explore the options in an attempt to resolve the underlying dispute. The chief school administrator of the district or his or her designee attends the mediation. The district may bring its attorney. The parent(s) may bring an attorney and/or advocate to the mediation.
The mediator from the OSEP does not represent either party. The role of the mediator is to help parties communicate and reach a mutually agreed upon settlement. Mediators do not make decisions regarding the facts in dispute nor do they determine the terms of any agreement. However, mediators do review the terms of the agreement to ensure compliance with the regulations for special education, New Jersey Administrative Code (N.J.A.C.) 6A:14.
Mediation Agreement – If agreement regarding the disputed issues is achieved, the terms of the agreement are written into the Notice of Agreement and signed by both parties (the parent and the representative of the district who has decision-making authority). The signed Notice of Agreement is legally binding on the parties. If a parent believes the mediation agreement is not being implemented as written, the parent may request enforcement of the agreement by writing to the State Director of the OSEP. Districts may seek enforcement in any State court of competent jurisdiction or in a District court of the United States.”
“Even when parents and school officials try their best to reach agreement on a student’s special education program, disagreements can occur. If this happens, mediation, which is a free, voluntary, and confidential alternative to a formal due process hearing, is an option. Mediation can take place at any time before or during the due process cycle. Mediation is not a required process and may not delay or deny a parent the right to a due process hearing.
If both parties agree to mediation, the Office for Dispute Resolution will arrange for a neutral, specially trained mediator to meet with them at a mutually convenient location. The mediator will meet with both parties together (and separately if necessary) to listen to both points of view, in order to understand each side’s position. Neither school officials nor parents may include a lawyer at the mediation session.”
However, in Pennsylvania you can bring an educational advocate to your mediation session.