WESTFIELD – The Special Education Parent Advisory Committee (SEPAC) will host a virtual workshop on special education mediation April 1, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. on zoom.
This workshop is an opportunity for parents to learn about the mediation process directly from Myrto Flessas, coordinator of Mediation and Facilitation, Bureau of Special Education Appeals.
According to a SEPAC parent volunteer, parents may have heard the term “mediation” if they have ever partially or fully rejected an Individualized Education Plan (IEP). When an IEP is rejected the parent receives a letter from the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals which explains the options to work directly with the local school district, or have mediation and a hearing.
Special education mediation is a process available at no cost through the Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA). When school personnel and parents disagree about the educational needs of a student with disabilities, either party may request mediation.
In mediation, an impartial, third party mediator helps parents and school staff clarify the issues and underlying concerns, explore interests, discuss options and reach mutually satisfying agreements that address the needs of the student. The mediator does not decide how to resolve the dispute – that is left in the hands of the parent or guardian and the school personnel. When the parties resolve all or some of the issues, they work together with the mediator to put their agreement in writing.
According to the Bureau, “this informal, collaborative problem-solving meeting encourages mutual respect, promotes communication and often provides the basis for positive working relationships between the parent and school staff.”
SEPAC organizers said they always encourage parents to work directly with the school district to attempt to resolve issues. But if an agreement cannot be made, mediation is an informal option that parents and the school district have as a possible way to come to a consensus.
The meeting ID for the zoom link is 826 1568 3351, password is 167518. For more information, contact [email protected]