California’s
Dispute Resolution System:
Innovation and Excellence
National Symposium on Dispute Resolution
in Special Education
Washington D.C.
Sponsored by: Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution
in Special Education (CADRE)
November 29, 2000
Presenters
• Fay Sorensen, Consultant
California Department of Education
• Kay Atchison, Former Executive Director
Placer-Nevada SELPA
• Sam Neustadt, Director
Solano SELPA
• Johnny Welton, Director
Contra Costa SELPA
2
What is a SELPA?
Special Education Local Plan Area
 An intermediate administrative unit created to
support the implementation of state
responsibilities and coordinate local efforts of
school districts
 A voluntary, formal structure for Local
Educational Agency collaboration that
maximizes resources, coordinates services, and
assures appropriate special education services
for all eligible children
3
Today’s Purpose
 To introduce California’s model for dispute
resolution – A work in progress
 To review California’s process for development
of a local and statewide program
 To share strategies and components (Top 10)
for dispute resolution systems
 To provide insight to our learnings
 To stimulate interest in locally developed
dispute resolution options
4
Background
 Policy Development
 Internal Data
 External Indicators
 Clinical Experience
 Current System
 Systemic Overhaul
5
Policy Development:
A Foundation
To create a permanent program
To allow continuing expansion
To establish a new belief system concerning
dispute resolution
6
Internal Data:
Growth in Complaints and
Due Process Filings
7
7
Complaints Received
(Updated 11/6/2000)
1000
900
800
700
600
500
400
300
200
100
0
926
763
637
523
373 (As of 11/6/00)
356
95-96
96-97
97-98
98-99
99-00
00 -01
8
Mediation and Due Process Hearings
(Updated 11/6/2000)
2500
2157
2000
1816
1700
1555
1500
Due Process
Mediation
1000
500
89
93
76
73
0
FY 96-97
FY 97-98
FY 98-99
FY 99-00
9
Most Frequent Allegations
 Implementation of the IEP
 Adherence to timelines
 Provision of related services
 Interim placements
 Implementation of agreements and
orders
 Request for records
 IEP Team membership
10
External Indicators
• OSEP monitoring report
• Class action lawsuits
• Increasing cost of responding
11
Clinical Experience
 ADR Pilot Legislation enacted in 1989
 Not accessed until 1993
 Small two-year pilots established
(3 then 6)
 Limited Data – but positive impressions
 No follow up
 No continuing effort
12
Previous ADR
Projects Indicated…
 Need for seamless data collection
 Need to have the work and accountability
follow the resources
 Need to reconcile relationships while
resolving IDEA related disputes
 Investment in ADR has a positive
outcome
13
Or, To Put It Another Way,
We know we have failed
to develop and maintain
positive working relationships
with parents at the school and
district level
14
Systemic Overhaul of Dispute
Resolution Systems
• Reactive Strategies
– Complaint Process Reforms
– Mediation and Hearing Reforms
• Proactive Strategies
– Procedural Safeguards Referral
Service
– ADR Network
15
California’s Existing System
 State Division Complaint Process: an
investigation into charges of noncompliance
 State Contracted Mediation: an optional
opportunity for a third party to
orchestrate a settlement conference type
activity
 State Contracted Hearing Process: an
administrative hearing process to resolve
disputes limited to eligibility,
assessment, FAPE, and placement
16
CMM Timeliness Results
•
•
•
•
•
90 day statutory timeline
125 open cases beyond timeline
Reliability of investigator questioned
Validity of process challenged
Outcome inconsistent
17
Concerns Regarding State
Contracted Mediation
Mediation not truly non-adversarial
– More of a caucus based settlement
conference than a true interest based
mediation
– Only 39% are resolved at the table
– 62% resolution rate before hearing
(over the past five years)
18
Concerns Regarding
Due Process
Due process is often expensive and drawn out
– 45 day statutory timeline
– Inequitable access for parents to the
process because of cost
– Average length of hearing is 4.3 days
– 92% of all cases go off calendar to mediate,
stretching timelines to months, rather than
days
– Average Case +10 months
from filing to ruling
19
Reactive: Current
Improvements Underway
• System change for Complaints with
retraining, monitoring, and legal review
• Contract modification for Mediation with
retraining, broadening of options, and
improved documentation
• Contract modification for Hearings with
retraining, monitoring of process, and
improved reporting
20
Alternative Hearing Process
Pilot Legislation
 Small claims process
 Pre-hearing conferences
 Free public representation pool
for better equity in access
 Limits length of hearings
 Alternative structures
 Signed into law for 2001
21
Proactive: Procedural Safeguards
Referral Service
 Provides technical assistance to parents and
professionals regarding parents rights and
options for dispute resolution in special
education
 Provides immediate feedback to LEAs regarding
parent contacts to PSRS in an effort to engage
LEAs in dispute resolution before the problem
escalates
 Maintains a database of contacts to CDE which
can be used to inform CDE’s technical assistance
to districts
 Provides centralized intake for compliance
complaints
22
Complaint Process:
A Local Resolution Option
Allows districts to resolve
complaints collaboratively with the
complainant within a shorter period
of time to the parents satisfaction
Allows for meaningful corrective
action
Maintains relationships while
settling disputes
23
California’s Statewide
ADR Network
• Regionalized among multiple districts
• Led by intermediate administrative units called
Special Education Local Plan Areas (SELPAs)
• Guided by practitioners through Advisory
Committee
• Designed locally and State funded for
implementation
• CDE supported, but not regulated
• Peer support and technical assistance provided
• On-going development and evolution
24
Definitions
• Planner: a regional applicant in the first
year of development of an ADR Plan
• Implementer: a regional applicant with
an approved ADR Plan implementing the
Plan
• Mentor: an specifically chosen SELPA
with an existing ADR Program matched
with Planner and Implementer SELPAs to
provide support and technical assistance
25
ADR Network Funding and
Implementation Model
• Planners receive small grant for one year
development of an ADR Plan and
attendance at the Statewide Conference
• Implementers receive grant for three years
to train the community in various options,
provide an intake coordinator, offer ADR
services, and collect data
• Mentors support planners, implementers,
and the Statewide Program while continuing
their local ADR services
26
Lessons Learned
Need For:
• Common Definitions
• Local Commitment
• Dedicated Staffing
• Supported Program Development
• Public Relations
• Data Collection /Accountability
• More Money
• Planned Expansion
27
Promising Practices
Top Ten Components
1. Statewide ADR
Conference
2. Local Intake
Coordinator
3. Solutions Panels
4. Facilitated IEPs
5. Resource Parents
6. Technical
Assistance/ Expert
Teams
7. IEP Coaches
8. Placement
Specialists
9. Staff Development
Tied To General
Education
10.Data Collection And
Evaluation
28
Statewide ADR
Conference
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
To
To
To
To
To
To
To
gather concerned parties
share information and process
allow applicants to design their plan
allow implementers to receive training
offer mentors to share their programs
report results
stimulate interest and support for ADR
29
Alternative Dispute
Resolution Plan
Placer Nevada
SELPA
30
Staff
Development
Ways to
Avoid
Litigation
Legal Consultation
at Administrative
Meetings
Program
Specialists
Coaches
Legal
Roundtables
Alternative Dispute
Resolution Program
31
32
Philosophy
• The purpose of an alternative Dispute
Resolution Program (ADR) is to build
trusting relationships and to encourage
respect and value the contributions of all
participants.
• Our goal is to create a system that is
friendly, flexible and will encourage
compassion, integrity and respect for all
participants. ADR is an important option
to the adversarial approaches too often
used in resolving disputes between
families, agencies and schools.
33
34
Local Intake Coordinator
 A designated or assigned LEA staff
member (could be a parent)
 Specifically trained to match disputants
and process
 Skilled in data collection
 Available to parents and district staff
 Readily available and swift to take action
35
Intake Coordinator
Listens To Your Concerns And Helps You
Identify Problems And Conflicts
With Your Permission Contacts The Other
Party
With Agreement Of Both Parties
Coordinates A Dispute Resolution Option
Follows Up To Check On Outcomes
Supports Both Parties To Build
Relationships
36
Intake Coordinator Training
(2 Hours)
Foundation:
Resource Parent
Training
Solutions Panel
Training
Facilitated IEP
Training
Data Base Training
Specific Intake
Process Training:
Communication
Case Development
Selection of
Strategy
Follow Up
Activities
Accountability
37
Solutions Panels
A Panel Including: Parent, Provider, and
Administrator (Parent May Be Paid)
From Another District
Specifically Trained
Using A Problem Solving Method To Bring
Parties Together
To Reach A Mutually Satisfying
Agreement
38
Solutions Panels Training
(25 Hours)






Conflict
Communication
Cultural Diversity
Anger
Negotiation
Conciliation and
Mediation
Intake
Case Development
Stumbling Blocks
Panel Process
Followup/Evaluation
 Other Applications





39
Solutions Panels: Phase I
1. Come to a full
understanding of the
problem
2. Establish rapport that
helps the people in
conflict state issues and
express feelings
3. Have each party hear
the other’s issues and
feelings
4. Model teamwork,
neutrality and
communication
5. Prepare the people in
conflict to communicate
and work together
Parties Describe The Conflict
Disputants
Party A
Party B
Solutions Panel
Parent
Provider
Admin
40
Solutions Panels: Phase II
Understanding Each Other
Disputants
Party A
Party B
Solutions Panel
Parent
Provider
Admin
1. Expand the Work of
Phase I
2. Decide which issue
will be discussed
first
3. Promoting
discussion between
the two disputants
focusing on specific
issues
4. Pointing out new
information as it
surfaces
41
Solutions Panels: Phase III
Exploring Possible Solutions
1. Helping the
disputants reflect
on the work and
learning that has
occurred
2. Preparing
disputants to
resolve the
conflict
42
Solutions Panels: Phase IV
Agreements Written And Signed
1. Developing a
resolution which is
mutually agreeable
to each disputant
2. Write an agreement
for signature
3. Reflect on the
process and options
for resolution of
future disputes
43
Follow up training
is important!
44
Future Plans for
Solutions Teams
Spring Training for:
• Principals and Vice Principals
• Parents
• Agencies
45
Facilitated IEPs
 An IEP led by a specifically trained
facilitator
 Using a collaborative process where
members share responsibility for
the process and results
 Decision-making is managed
through the use of facilitation
process
46
Facilitated IEPs Training
(24 Hours)
 Self-Assessment
 The Interaction
Method
 Facilitative
Behaviors
 Setting Up For
Success
 Listening As An
Ally
 Follow Through
47
Facilitation For IEP Meetings
Enables the team to:
• Build and improve strong relationships
among team members
• Reach true consensus
• Focus the IEP content and process on
the needs of the student
• Exercise and efficient, guided meeting
process where the effective
communication and reflective listening
are practiced
48
Resource Parents







Volunteers
Providing Parent-To-Parent
Support
Specifically Trained
Sanctioned By The District
Willing To Put Aside
Personal Issues
Able To Use Listening And
Speaking Skills
To Facilitate Communication
To Empower Others To Work Within The
Educational System
49
Resource Parent Training
(12 Hours)
• Communication/
Listening
• Assertiveness
• Collaborative
Problem Solving
• Leadership
• Telephone Skills
• Facilitation
•
•
•
•
Collaboration/Partnership
IDEA ‘97
IEP Process
Working With Difficult
People
• Recognizing Grief
• Empowerment/Resources/
Commitment
50
Technical AssistanceExpert Teams
DEAF
VISION
TECHNOLOGY
AUTISM
51
Technical AssistanceExpert Teams
To assist IEP teams to design services and
select materials and equipment through
access to experts in the field and use of
problem solving techniques.
•
•
•
•
•
Consultation to Teachers
Work with Support Staff
Assessment
Inservice Training
Coordination
52
Technical AssistanceExpert Team Process
 Present Levels of Function
To identify parent and staff perceptions of
function and potential while moving the
group toward realistic descriptions
 Possible Needs
To identify and prioritize desired outcomes
 Action Plan
To document team decision making, describe
actions to be undertaken, and assign
implementers
53
IEP Coaches
54
GOAL OF IEP
COACHING
Student
District
Teachers
County
Parents
Consortium
Support
Personnel
SELPA
To support and assist IEP teams as they offer
quality education and protect the student’s
fundamental right to a free and appropriate
public education.
55
IEP COACHES
TRAINING
56
Day One Focus
Jim Socher
Former Football Coach, UC Davis
57
Diagnostic School
 California Public Education
– Legal Mandates
 Demographics




Collaboration
504
Student Study Teams
Procedural Safeguards
58
Day Two
 Reflections about Coaches
 Bob Farran, Administrator,
Southwest SELPA
 IEP Process
 Frameworks and Standards
 Benchmarks
59
Day Three
Interactive Learning Sessions
Transition:
Preschool to
Elementary
School
Successful
IEPs
What
Is
Technology?
Behavioral Interventions
Goals
And
Objectives
Transition:
Elementary/
Middle School
To
High School
Procedural Safeguards
And
Due Process
60
Fall Camp, September 1999
 504
 Writing Effective Goals and Objectives
 Making IEPs Work for Students
 Coaches’ Roles and Responsibilities
 Shared Coaches’ Duties
61
Spring Camp, 2000
 Share Coaches’ Experiences
 Tips on Coaching
 Invite Regular Education Teacher to
Come and Share Their Experiences
 Parent Participation
62
California’s
Program Specialists
Are Not Administrators
Serve School Districts and County
Offices
Work with Agencies, Parents and
Schools
63
California’s
Program Specialists
Monitor Nonpublic School
Placements
Work with District and State Schools
Provide Staff Development
Look for Alternative Programs for
Students
Look for Alternative Curriculums
64
Staff Development Tied
To General Education
65
People learn best through active
involvement and through
thinking about and becoming
articulate about what they have
learned. Processes, practices,
and policies built on this view of
learning are at the heart of a
more expanded view of teacher
development that encourages
teachers to involve themselves
as learners—in much the same
way as they wish to involve their
students.
66
1999-2000 Focus
 3-Year Literacy
Project
 Lindamood Bell
 Making Positive
Changes with
Challenging
Students
 Teaching Children
with Autism
 Parent Mentor
Training
 Strategies &
Interventions for
the Diverse
Classroom
 Middle School
Principal’s
Luncheon
 IEP Forms Training
67
1999-2000 Focus
 IEP Coaches Follow
Up Trainings
 Strategies for
Students with
Asperger’s/High
Functioning
Autism
 Parent Support
and Resource
Conference
 IEP Training for
Agencies
 Surrogate Parent
Training
 Alternative
Dispute Resolution
Training and
Follow Up
 Nonviolent Crisis
Intervention
68
1999-2000 Focus
 Social Skills:
Strategies for
Children Who
Don’t Fit In
 Middle School
Literacy:
Assessment and
Intervention
Strategies
 Meeting the
Challenge:
Teaching to All
Learners
 A World of
Possibilities:
Educating
Students with
Severe Disabilities
69
1999-2000 Focus
 The Hanen
Program for
Families with
Children with
Autism Spectrum
Disorder
 Phonics for the
Older Student
 Language!
 High School
Modifications Fair
 Are You Trapped
in the Classroom
or Lost in the
Community?
70
Data Collection
and
Evaluation
71
Disputes Are About:
• Feedback
• Validation
• Communication
• Relationships
• Opportunities
72
How Are You Doing?
• Prepare for one formal complaint or
hearing per thousand
• Prepare with a systematic approach
• Identify:
–
–
–
–
Who
What
How
When
73
You Will Only Know
If You Keep Track
 How many did you
receive?
 How many times did
you respond?
 Who responded?
 When did they respond
(timeline)?
 What did they do?
 How did it turn out?
74
What Is Your System?
• Intake
• Plan
• Action
• Follow Up
• Evaluation
75
How Do You Track
Cases And Monitor Results?
On Paper
Or
Using
Technology
76
Systems Require Definitions
Filing: State or Federal level requests for:
• Pre-mediation
• Mediation
• Expedited Hearing
• Due Process Hearing
• Complaint Investigation
• Office of Civil Rights Investigation
77
Systems Require Definitions
Issue: Common categories of dispute
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
including:
Identification
Assessment
Educational Placement
Free Appropriate Public Education
Timelines
Implementation of IEP
Failure to hold IEP Meetings
78
Systems Require Definitions
Strategy: An course of action chosen to
match a case’s situation and
implemented with specific intent as to
outcome including:
• Referred to IEP
• Referred to Resource Parent
• Facilitated IEP
• Local Mediation
• Solutions Panel
79
Systems Require Definitions
Outcome: The result after action is taken
• Signed IEP
• Signed Agreement
• Complaint Order
• Hearing Order
• Informal Outcome
• Other
80
We Need To Know
•
•
•
•
How many in a year?
What were the most frequent issues?
What type of agreement was reached?
What were the benefits of alternative
actions?
• What were the benefits of formal actions?
81
We Need To Plan
• How
• How
• How
• How
• How
we
we
we
we
we
improve our system
improve our service
train parents and staff
choose options
invest our resources
82
“Seamless” Data
• State Intake
• State Complaint Investigation
• State Contracted Mediation
• State Contracted Hearing
• Local/Regional Dispute Resolution
Activity
83
State Intake
• Call the state – Immediate
Communication
– State staff to guide technical assistance
– Parent to provide printed material
– District to alert and allow local
communication
•
•
•
•
On screen interview
Central point of contact
Coordinated communication
Shared information
84
State Complaint Investigation
• Formal opening of case
• Identified issues
• Communicated to parents and
district
• Timeline monitoring
• Outcome analysis
85
State Contracted Mediation
• Formal opening of case
• Identified issues
• Outcome analysis
86
State Contracted Hearings
• Formal opening of case
• Identified issues
• Timeline monitoring
• Outcome analysis
87
Local ADR Activity
• Informal identification of case
• Identified issues
• ADR Strategy Tracking
• Formal filing of case
• Timeline monitoring
• Outcome analysis
• Cost/Benefit analysis
88
Questions & Answers
• Fay Sorensen, Consultant
California Department of Education
• Kay Atchison, Former Executive
Director Placer-Nevada SELPA
• Sam Neustadt, Director
Solano SELPA
• Johnny Welton, Director
Contra Costa SELPA
89
Summary &
Closing Comments
California’s
Dispute Resolution
System: Innovation and
Excellence
Dispute Resolution Provides
 Empowerment
Through Information
 Skills
Through Training
 Support
Through Relationships
 Evaluation
Through Data
91
Today’s Purpose
To introduce California’s model for
dispute resolution – A work in progress
To review California’s process for
development of a local and statewide
program
To share strategies and components (10)
for dispute resolution systems
To provide insight to our learnings
To stimulate interest in locally developed
dispute resolution options
92
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