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Student Frequently Asked Questions SPARC Mediation FAQ

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What is special education mediation?<div class="ExternalClassCCC4B900439147FD9FE64BFF832D883B"><p>Special Education mediation is a comprehensive approach to resolving differences and repairing relationships. It is a process conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator to resolve disagreements between families and schools regarding any matter arising under Part B of IDEA. Mediators are there to ensure that every party’s concerns are heard and help facilitate conversations to find common ground and solutions for moving forward. </p><p>Special Education mediation allows districts and families the opportunity to come to a mutually agreeable solution, rather than having a “winner” and “loser.” All discussions in mediation are confidential and cannot be used in future court or other legal proceedings. If an agreement is reached, SPARC will draft a document outlining the agreement and each party will sign a copy of it. This agreement is a legally binding document.</p></div>
How do I get started? <div class="ExternalClass6AD01C40606441E3828CE8F08D0D541D"><p>Before the actual mediation can be scheduled, SPARC schedules phone meetings with the key participants. This call consists of answering any of your questions, as well as talking about what concerns you are looking to address through mediation. SPARC wants to be sure the concerns you have are able to be mediated and ensure that all parties are willing to mediate those concerns. <br></p></div>
How do I know if I need mediation? <div class="ExternalClass3CE5F5A2052E49059ACEDF6B4939E6C3"><p>When families and schools are having trouble communicating and resolving differences regarding the education of a special needs student, SPARC mediation may be able to help. SPARC staff can help you determine if mediation is the appropriate next step. Contact our office for a confidential discussion about our services.<br></p></div>
What if an Administrative or Due Process Complaint has already been filed? <div class="ExternalClass3A3AA7DBE0D848C1904FC4F3313BEAF1"><p>Participation in SPARC mediation will not delay or deny any rights under IDEA. Administrative and Due Process Complaint processes remain intact and on schedule regardless of whether the parties utilize mediation. Because mediation can occur fairly quickly, parties have the opportunity to try mediation without giving up other avenues of resolution. Complaints can only be withdrawn by the requesting party. <br></p></div>
What happens during mediation? <div class="ExternalClassD140914A02B049A8BFBB82E65F5BD86A"><p>The mediator welcomes the parties and explains the mediation process. As a neutral third party, the mediator guides the participants through a balanced conversation that allows them to clarify their concerns and generate options for resolving their differences. Mediation encourages the parties to focus on the relevant issues and work in the best interest of the student. <br></p></div>
How do I prepare for mediation? <div class="ExternalClass047A2B807A1144309B9331944B41B795"><p>Mediation participants should be prepared to talk about the concerns that brought them to mediation and ideas to remedy the situation. Participants should be prepared to speak on their own behalf, listen to others, and negotiate in good faith. Participants have the option of seeking advice from an advocate or an attorney before and during mediation. </p></div>
Does the mediator make decisions?<div class="ExternalClass5094946F313246CC8CE4C545ED28D73E"><p>No, the mediator does not make decisions, suggest solutions, or determine the outcome of mediation. All decision-making rests with the family and school.</p></div>
What happens if we resolve our differences during mediation? <div class="ExternalClass1429A5A8E4624497B4700668CB21CDCE"><p>It is up to the parties to determine when they’ve reached a resolution and the terms of the resolution. If a resolution is reached, the parties must execute a legally binding agreement that sets forth that resolution. The mediator will help the parties develop a written agreement that outlines the terms and conditions agreed upon by both sides.<br></p></div>
What happens if mediation doesn’t work?<div class="ExternalClass05E22CD6A9784AACBA4A4DC62B3D8389"><p>You may pursue other avenues to settle the dispute, including continuing mediation, or filing an administrative complaint or a due process complaint. If you are already involved in a complaint process, that process continues. <br></p></div>
How do I request mediation? <div class="ExternalClassF56203D526B049969CD3D67F169DDAC9"><p>Mediation may be requested by completing a “Request for Mediation” form located on the Department of Education website at https://www.doe.k12.de.us/Page/2337 or by contacting Kathy Murphy at (302)-831-2927.<br></p></div>
What is the cost of mediation?<div class="ExternalClass080401A53AC941569A49AE8CAE207827"><p>SPARC services are funded by the Delaware Department of Education and are free for families and schools. Parties who chose to involve an advocate, attorney, or educational expert are responsible for their fees.<br></p></div>
How long does mediation take?<div class="ExternalClass859281241AD84B01B92018B3ABAC5513"><p>The amount of time participants spend in mediation varies. SPARC ask all parties to set aside two hours for a mediation session. Depending on the complexity of the dispute, the actual time spent in mediation may be more or less than the time allotted. </p></div>
What topics are appropriate for mediation?<div class="ExternalClass257C22886D1840C18F5C3C0945D90837"><p>Mediation is available to resolve disputes related to Part B of IDEA, such as, but not limited to, special education services, related services; eligibility, placement, and communication between home and school. If you’re considering mediation, please contact our office for a free, confidential discussion about our services and whether mediation is right for you.<br></p></div>
Who attends the mediation?<div class="ExternalClassC94AB7D8D4CB4C94AAAA3D44F62E6F21"><p>Mediation involves a limited number of participants, mutually determined by the mediator, family, and school. Prior to scheduling the mediation, SPARC staff works with the key parties to determine who should attend. Typically, the parties involved in special education mediation are a parent/guardian and a representative from the school and/or district. The key parties in mediation must have the authority to act on behalf of the student and/or the school district.<br></p></div>
What if one party wants to go to mediation, but the other does not?<div class="ExternalClassFC3C2CEDFBE44E568A523E16D8B8E5D3"><p>Mediation can only occur if both family and school are willing to participate. <br></p></div>

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