SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 81
May 9, 1997
|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 "firstname.lastname@example.org". RTL/jd Attachment: A hard copy of this memo and its attachment will be sent to the superintendent's office.