The Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (“BSEA”) has a mediation program that it runs concurrently with its formal hearing process. Mediation is a form of ADR or alternative dispute resolution. A pamphlet issued by BSEA does a great job explaining the basics of how mediation differs from the traditional adversarial process.
“What Sets Mediation Apart from Other Special Education Meetings?
· Mediation is conducted by a neutral third party
· Mediation can uncover new approaches that the
parties haven’t previously explored.
· Participants are encouraged to examine the reasons
behind their conclusions and reevaluate their
· Mediation provides a structured, problem solving
approach that ensures that all participants are able to
express their perspectives while being treated fairly
· The mediator’s questions may encourage new
thought, elicit new options and provide a format in
which people can communicate with each other
differently. The parties often reach a different
outcome than they reached in previous special
According to BSEA Special Education Mediation can be requested whenever “the I.E.P. is rejected in full or in part or when there is a disagreement regarding evaluations, eligibility,
placement or implementation of the I.E.P.” or when “there is a disagreement between the parents and the school district regarding the student’s special education needs” or when “there is a disagreement about a 504 Accommodation Plan.”