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This synthesis paper examines the use of mediation to improve parent-school district communication and resolve disagreements in special education. It focuses on the development and implementation of mediation as a viable alternative to the formal hearing process under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). After an introduction, the first section describes state mediation models in five states: Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Hampshire, and Pennsylvania. The next section examines the role of the mediator and training for that role. The third section presents 1993 data on mediation usage in the five states studied and related issues, including the outcomes of mediation and the effect of attorney fee reimbursement. Mediations held in these states varied from 17 in New Hampshire to 768 in Massachusetts. The paper's concluding section notes such ongoing issues as the growing cost to states in maintaining the mediation service and the excessive litigiousness that sometimes characterizes the process. Recommendations include reviewing all aspects of special education due process as part of the pending reauthorization of IDEA. (Contains 17 references.) (DB)

Descriptors: Compliance (Legal), Conflict Resolution, Disabilities, Due Process, Educational Legislation, Elementary Secondary Education, Federal Legislation, Hearings, Special Education, State Programs

Autor: Symington, Gloria T.


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