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The Special Education Resolution Center of OSU (SERC) has been collaborating with the Oklahoma State Department of Education for over 10 years to help families and school district resolve conflicts at the earliest stage possible. SERC provides services for children from birth to 3 in SoonerStart and for students 3 through 21 in public schools.
What Does SERC provide to schools, SoonerStart sites and families at no cost?
Definition: The 'Individualized Education Program, also called the IEP, is a document that is developed for each public school child who needs special education. The IEP is created through a team effort, reviewed periodically. In the United States, this program is known as an Individualized Education Program (IEP).
Educators contend with significant pressures resulting from insufficient resources, inadequate professional development opportunities and an ever-changing landscape of educational initiative and mandates. Despite such challenges, school staff partner successfully with parents in millions of meetings each year to create appropriate individualized programs (IEPs) for student who receive special education and related services…
|Please consider seeking mediation to resolve disputes and IEP facilitation to develop IEPs under challenging circumstances. Both processes have helped many teams to address not only their immediate issues, but also to improve school-family relationships and communication.
– Andrea Kunkel,
Oklahoma Director of Special Services
IEP teams are intentionally composed of parents, educators, and service providers who bring different expertise to the development of effective educational programs. This diversity may lead to conflict rather than collaboration. Difficult conversations may ensue when you find yourself at odds with your colleagues or with parents of student attending your school. These difficult conversations can create stress or anger as strong feelings are expressed or left unspoken…
There are strategies that can be used in teams to communicate more effectively when disagreements occur, opinions diverge and strong emotions are present. During each following newsletter, a strategy will be presented
(Taken from Engaging Parents in Productive Partnerships, CADRE, 2015)
Fortunately, when the teams have exhausted their abilities to reach consensus, programs are available to parents and schools (at no cost) to help them through the process.
IEP facilitation and mediation can help the team build consensus. In each case, a neutral person, with highly trained communication skills, joins the meeting to help manage the conflict helping people be at their best, treating others with respect, getting to the bottom of the concern, listening deeply and demonstrating understanding.
If your situation qualifies and all parties consent, a highly trained facilitator can attend an IEP meeting to help guide the discussion in a structured setting. They do not have the authority to decide the issue and will not render legal advice.
However, they will assist all parties as they discuss and explore each other’s point of view. The facilitator works on behalf of all parties to help come to a mutual agreement on a student’s education program.
Mediation is an agreement-reaching process in which a highly trained mediator assists all consenting parties in resolving their dispute in a collaborative and informed manner. The mediator has no authority to decide the issue and mediation is not a substitute for independent legal advice. Agreements made during mediation remain in the hands of all parties in attendance. In the end, the parties sign an agreement containing the issues resolved.
A due process hearing is a court-like review process governed by administrative laws. The hearing is presided over by a highly trained hearing official whose decisions have the effect of law and are binding upon the parties participating in the hearing.
During a hearing, both parties subpoena and present witnesses and perform cross examination; present admissible evidence; may present depositions or affidavits; engage in closing argument; and request that the hearing officer rule favorably on their positions. Parties may represent themselves or be represented by attorneys at their own expense.
For more resources and to learn about stakeholder training opportunities, visit our "home" page here.
The Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP) is dedicated to improving results for infants, toddlers, children and youth with disabilities ages birth through 21 by providing leadership and financial support to assist states and local districts.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act of 2004 (IDEA) authorizes formula grants to states and discretionary grants to institutions of higher education and other non-profit organizations to support research, demonstrations, technical assistance and dissemination, technology and personnel development and parent-training and information centers.
OSEP Policy Letters provide information, guidance and clarification regarding implementation of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) through two types of issuances: OSEP Memos and Dear Colleague Letters. Below is the link to the policy letters on line and a listing of the last 11 guidance documents issues and one on dispute resolution.
The link below will take you to guidance issued since 2001.
And one on Dispute Resolution!