COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 163
November 6, 1998

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM: Paul D. Stapleton
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT: Special Education Mediation

 
  Through Supts Memo No. 132, August 15, 1997
  (Informational), you were provided interim mediation
  guidelines and advised that these should be followed
  until the Department of Education (DOE) issues final
  guidelines on this topic.  The purpose of this memorandum
  is to furnish an update on progress we have made toward
  achieving this goal. 

  Beginning with a stakeholders' meeting in September 1997,
  DOE staff developed a mediation system that encompasses
  those elements that research shows to be most effective
  in the mediation process.  The system, which was
  subjected to an extensive field review, will feature the
  following components.

       A pool of eight mediators will be selected by a
       panel that will include representatives of the
       parent, school, and mediation communities. 
       Applicants must have a four-year college degree,
       reached their 21st birthday, successfully completed
       a basic mediation training program (20 hours), and
       mediated or co-mediated at least five cases in the
       past 12 months.

       The DOE will provide the individuals selected with
       initial and on-going training and consultation on a
       variety of topics related to mediation and special
       education.

       Mediators will be evaluated annually and may be
       removed from the pool under specified conditions.

       Either party may initiate consideration of using
       mediation for any issue regarding a child's
       eligibility for special education services and their
       provision, scope, and delivery. If both parties
       agree to mediate and to use the DOE Special
       Education Mediation System, the local school
       division is responsible for requesting mediation
       services from the DOE.  When requested by a school
       division, the DOE will assign a mediator to the
       case.  

       The DOE will pay the mediator a specified fee and
       related expenses, such as interpreters, if the state
       system is used.

       The system allows for either party to invite other
       individuals to attend the mediation session at the
       discretion of the mediator; however, such
       individuals may not formally represent the party
       during the mediation session. 

  In the near future, we will solicit applications from
  mediators who wish to become members of the pool.  Once
  selection of the eight mediators and initial training
  have been accomplished, the system will become effective,
  and you will be provided with detailed procedures for
  using the state mediation system.  In the meanwhile,
  however, the interim mediation guidelines distributed in
  August 1997, remain in effect.

  Questions about this matter may be referred to Dr.
  Don Fleming, Office of Special Education and Student
  Services, at (804) 225-2185.

  PDS/hdc