COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 171
September 10, 1999

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) and Supts. Memo No. 103, November 6, 1998 
(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 inform 
you that the Statewide Special Education Mediation System 
(SSEMS) will become operational on September 13, 1999.  The 
system, which has been subject to extensive field review, 
features the following components.

     A pool of eight experienced mediators has been 
     selected by a 5-member panel that included 
     representatives of the parent, school, and 
     mediation communities.

     The DOE has provided the selected mediators with 
     initial training and scheduled on-going training 
     and consultation for them.

     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 SSEMS, the 
     local division is responsible for requesting 
     mediation services.  When requested by a school 
     division, the DOE will assign a mediator to the 
     case.

     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.

     The mediator is responsible for the management of 
     the mediation sessions.

     A standard format will be provided mediators for 
     drafting the mediation agreement.

     The DOE is responsible for mediators' fees, non-
     English language interpreters, interpreters for 
     the hearing impaired, translations of mediation 
     agreements into parent/guardian's native language 
     or other communication formats, and Braille 
     translations.  The DOE is not responsible for 
     disputants' expenses including the costs of third 
     party consultations.

If you desire to use mediation to facilitate the resolution 
of a special education dispute, please contact Dr. Don 
Fleming at (804) 225-2185 for information about procedures 
to follow to secure the services of a SSEMS mediator.  
Also, a copy of the administrative guidelines for SSEMS can 
be obtained upon request from Dr. Fleming.

PDS:kts