Mediators

Discussion in 'Special Ed 101' started by Mickey2255, Dec 19, 2007.

  1. Mickey2255

    Mickey2255 New Member

    Some quick background before I ask my questions...

    difficult child's IEP that was written (pre-written is probably a better term) this fall was absolutely horrid and the testing they did prior to that was next to useless. I asked for an IEE and the school tried to take us to due process. I withdrew the request on advice that it would be easier to get it done ourselves and THEN go back to them for reimbursement. In the meantime, I spoke with the district compliance officer about the problems we were having in "negotiating" this IEP and she recommended a mediator. This is a state provided mediator - they gave me the number to call and they are ready to attend a meeting in January for whenever we set it up. The mediator even emailed the Special Education director to let her know that she would be working with us all.

    Yesterday I sent an email asking the Special Education director for dates in January that we could supply to the mediator for meeting on this IEP. This is the reply I received today:

    "The IDEA mediation requirements include the statement that both parties must agree with the selection of the mediator. Please let us know who you are considering to act as the mediator.

    We would additionally request that you provide us with a copy of Austin’s newly completed evaluation prior to our meeting so we may review the contents.

    We will be happy to provide you with dates and times we are available after we have been given the opportunity to review the mediator you have chosen and the new documents from Austin’s most recent evaluation."

    My questions: 1) Is she right about the mediation requirements in IDEA?
    2) Why would they question a state supplied mediator recommended by their district compliance officer?
    3) Can they ask me for a copy of the IEE that I sought and paid for prior to the meeting?
    4) Is there any benefit to US in providing them the IEE results prior to the meeting? They have been less than helpful in ever giving us anything before meetings to help ME prepare.

    I really appreciate any advice anyone can offer. I'm digging out my Wright's Law books as soon as I hit send but extra opinions are much better!!

    THANKS!
    Michelle
     
  2. slsh

    slsh member since 1999

    http://www.cenmi.org/documents

    Michelle,

    I checked MI information and what I find is that both parties must agree to "mediation" in order for it to happen - not the specific "mediator". Links above. You might want to check with the district compliance officer on this. school district can always just refuse mediation, in which case you're back to DP request.

    I'd just print that brochure and send it to sped dir. I mean, it's *the* Michigan Mediation Program through MI sped office. Duh.

    I'm a real cynic when it comes to difficult districts, but I'd guess she's questioning it because, period. Intimidation, one upmanship, etc. Again, I'm a cynic and expect less than honorable motives sometimes.

    Oh my gosh - I missed the part where the mediator had already contacted school district! The games people play... Argh! I'd just respond with something along the lines of "as you know from an email from Mrs. Mediator from MSEMP, sent on xx/xx/xx, she will be working with us on developing an appropriate IEP for difficult child".

    The IEE - sheesh. Burns me that sped dir has the nerve to request it prior to mtg. I'd be really *really* tempted to require reimbursement for IEE that they initially refused prior to them getting a copy.

    BUT - the whole point of the IEE was to get better information to use in developing IEP. In order for school district to consider (and they are in no way obligated to do more than "consider") your IEE recommendations, you're going to have to give them a copy anyway. It's going to look far better for your case if you give them a copy now, in my humble opinion, then wait for mediation. Because I can be just as prickly as school district's, I would send it (certified) with a letter advising them that you will still be pursuing reimbursement from the school district for the evaluation. Sheila/Martie might (probably) disagree about that last part because it's a bit like throwing gas on a fire.

    I think as parents we're caught between a rock and a hard place sometimes. We're trying to obtain appropriate services for our kids and *that* is what we have to keep our focus on. Some school district's act like their job is to refuse, deny, and generally confound our every effort. Some have an endless bag of tricks and the resources to hire lawyers from here to tomorrow. It's a stacked deck, in my humble opinion. At the end of the day, you have to do what is best for your kid and let the school district have their petty power plays to feel like they've "won". At least, that's been my experience. If it gets your child appropriate services, it's a fair trade off.

    Hang in there!
     
  3. Mickey2255

    Mickey2255 New Member

    Thank you! My first reaction was to be a PITA about it all but that's why I post here before I actually reply to these flaming emails from school!!

    I'm starting to think that the sped director has never dealt with mediation before. She's fairly new to this position - just 5 years ago she was a regular ed teacher at the school. And this is a charter school open only 10 years so they don't have as much experience with this stuff as some I'm sure. I also get the feeling that because I'm actually fighting them (It's quite possible they've never had this happen before) the principal is holding her responsible for not "controlling" me. I've quoted IDEA several times and I think she thought to do the same - unfortunately for her she was wrong! The sped coordinator is also in trouble for responding to me with some very inaccurate information - she's not even allowed to correspond with me now. The funny thing is that I've always been totally cooperative, never "argued", very pleasant and smiling and I'm a total piranha at that school. The only time they've ever seen me even get "excited" was when they suspended difficult child for the 13th day last year and I demanded a manifestation determination meeting and they told me because his IEP was only for speech and language it would be pointless. Yep - that's when I got serious with this stuff!

    Again, thank you! Makes me feel better that others have the same initial reaction and then calmer voices prevail!

    Michelle
     
  4. Martie

    Martie Moderator

    IDEA requires that states make some form of mediation available to parents and schools, but as usual, the details are left up to the states. Mediation is "voluntary" but in IL it is also "mandatory" which I know sounds impossible but in IL a DP hearing officer can use refusal to mediate against a party so "everyone" mediates, and little ever gets done. It is often just another bureaucratic hoop before DP.

    The links above are to Michigan, so they would apply to you because state law may exceed but not limit federal law.

    Best to you,

    Martie
     
  5. mom23gsfg

    mom23gsfg New Member

    in my experience they are a great help.i fought for over 4 years for an extra set of text books that i could keep at home .and to get his homework and etc. sent via email.because my son would either forget to bring them home or would lose them also,due to his limp in his leg when he had lots of books to carry home it would put strain on his hip.
    i heard the school board would not allow this and yadda yadda yadda.
    it only took one time for her to go with me and i have his textbooks at home and get sent his homework via email,also his report card and etc.
    this lady was a godsend for me.so dont let up.sometimes all it takes is someone who knows ur child's rights to show up and they will do what is nessary.
     
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