COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 81
May 9, 1997

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Use of Mediation to Resolve Special Education Disputes

 
  The 1997 session of the General Assembly amended and reenacted
  22.1-214 of the Code of Virginia relative to the resolution of
  certain special education disputes.  The regulations governing
  special education prescribe procedures to afford due process
  to children with disabilities and their parents or guardians
  and to school divisions in resolving disputes relative to
  special education matters. (Regulations Governing Special
  Education Programs for Students with Disabilities in Virginia,
  3.4, A.4) These regulations state that parties to the dispute
  may use mediation to resolve the issues. The Code revision
  directs the Board of Education to amend these procedures to
  "encourage the use of mediation as an informal means of
  resolving such disputes.  Mediation shall not, however, be
  used to deny or delay the due process rights of parents or
  guardians."  The legislation is attached for your review and
  reference.

  The Virginia Department of Education will incorporate this
  change in its regulations governing special education when the
  reauthorization of the Individuals with Disabilities Education
  Act is completed.  We anticipate a federal requirement to
  offer mediation; however, regardless of the final federal
  language, we intend to include this provision in the revision
  of our state regulations.  In the meantime, the Department
  will develop a pilot program on mediation for the 1997-98
  school year.  Additionally, please be advised that mediation
  resources are available on the website, under the Department's
  homepage at "http://pen.k12.va.us/Anthology/DOE"; VaDOE
  Regional Mediation Services.

  Please share this information and attachment with your
  Directors of Special Education.   Program questions relative
  to this matter may be referred to Don Fleming, Specialist,
  Office of Special Education and Student Services at (804) 225-2185.
  Compliance matters may be referred to Judy Douglas,
  Associate Director, Office of Special Programs, Division of
  Compliance, at (804) 225-2771; or e-mail at
  "jdouglas@pen.k12.va.us". 

  RTL/jd

  Attachment:  A hard copy of this memo and its attachment
               will be sent to the superintendent's office.