Team Conflict Resolution Strategies by EveryAvenue


									                     Conflict Resolution Strategies in Special Education
                                Education Team: Fact Sheet

All families want the best services and education possible for their child. Often in special
education this results in conflict between families and school officials. IDEA requires that
schools provide an “appropriate” education and services for children with disabilities. The term
“appropriate” causes much debate and conflict between both parties.

The practice of special education law is generally non-litigious. Data provided by the Florida
Department of Education reveals that from July 1, 2005- June 30, 2006 there were only 177
requests for Due Process Hearings. Of those 177 requests, 135 requests did not proceed with
Due Process Hearings because the matters were ultimately resolved through alternate dispute
resolution strategies, including mediation sessions, resolution sessions and settlement

There are several things to consider when deciding whether to litigate or not in special education:

       •   Litigation may ensure the end of all conflict
       •   Litigation may improve relationships between families and school personnel
       •   Litigation may increase acrimony between the parties and may result in retribution
           against the child
       •   Mediations and resolution sessions are better alternatives to resolving problems
       •   Mediation and resolution sessions are quicker, less formal proceedings that may
           foster less acrimony between the parties
       •   87% of all Due Process Hearings nationally are won by districts
       •   Only 13% of Due Process Hearings nationally are won by the families
       •   Long process (child often languishes in an inappropriate placement or with
           inadequate service)
       •   Emotional process
       •   Costly for families (IDEA does not allow for families to recover expert witness fees
           even if the families are victorious and attorneys fees are recoverable only if there is a
           final order in favor of the families)
       •   Some Administrative Law Judges presiding over Due Process Hearings are
           inadequately trained

The Advocacy Center’s education team supports the notion of investigating and providing direct
assistance to families. Assistance typically consists of working with families and school districts
to negotiate a “win-win” situation for both parties involved.
Resources for Families:

Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities:

Wrights Law:

Florida Department of Education:

Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement without Giving In
Authors: Roger Fisher and William Ury

The Parents’ Complete Special Education Guide: Tips, Techniques and Materials for Helping
Your Child Succeed in School and Life
Authors: Roger Pierangelo and Robert Jacoby

From Emotions to Advocacy
Authors: Pam Wright and Pete Wright

IDEA 2004
Authors: Pam Wright and Pete Wright

This publication is provided as general information and is intended as a general reference source for persons with
disabilities and their advocates. This information is not meant to create an attorney-client relationship or provide
legal counsel. Before acting or refraining from acting, please seek legal advice from a licensed attorney. The
Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Inc. has used its best efforts in collecting and preparing material
included in this publication, but does not warrant that the information herein is complete or accurate, and does not
assume, and hereby disclaims, any liability to any person for any loss or damage caused by errors or omissions
herein, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident or any other cause.

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