The Special Education Partnership for the Amicable Resolution of Conflict (SPARC) mediation program was formally created in 1997 to comply with Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) regulations. It has grown from focused solely on program offering mediation to parties who file due-process (DP) requests to a multi-pronged program that also offers non-due-process (NDP) mediation, Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting facilitation and a variety of special-education trainings for parents, mentors, advocates, and educators. The objective of the combined components of the SPARC project is to address conflicts between home and school at the earliest possible stage. These services are accessed by Delaware parents and school and district personnel to resolve disputes over special-education services and placement.
For more information, contact the Conflict Resolution Program at 302-831-8158.
from National Information Center for Children and Youth with Disabilities (NICHCY)
“IDEA is our nation's special education law. IDEA stands for Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.
“The IDEA was originally enacted by Congress in 1975 to make sure that children with disabilities had the opportunity to receive a free appropriate public education, just like other children. The law has been revised many times over the years. The most recent amendments were passed by Congress in December 2004--yes, that recently! So, in some sense, the law is very new, even as it has a long, detailed, and powerful history.
“IDEA guides how states and school districts provide special education and related services to more than six million eligible children with disabilities.”
from the Special Education Mediation for Families and Schools - SPARC brochure, CRP, IPA, University of Delaware
“Mediation is a voluntary process designed to help people solve their problems together in a safe, productive, neutral environment. It seeks to create win-win results by giving everyone involved a chance to shape the solution.”
from the Technical Assistance Alliance for Parent Centers, 2001
“Protects the right of parents to have input into their child’s educational program and to take steps to resolve disagreements. When parents and school districts disagree with one another, they may ask for an impartial hearing to resolve issues. An impartial due process hearing is a meeting between parents and the school district. Each side presents its position and a hearing officer [Delaware has a hearing panel of three persons] decides what the appropriate educational program is, based on the requirements in law.”
from Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), Notice of Procedural Safeguards
“The [Delaware] Department [of Education] has established a voluntary mediation system through the Conflict Resolution Program at the University of Delaware. The Department may also offer mediation in circumstances other than when a due process hearing has been requested.”
For more information see www.doe.k12.de.us or call 302-735-4210.
from Facilitated IEP Meetings: An Emerging Practice, Consortium for Appropriate Dispute Resolution in Special Education (CADRE)
“A facilitator helps keep members of the IEP team focused on the development of the IEP while addressing conflicts and disagreements that may arise during the meeting. At the meeting, the facilitator will use communication skills that create an environment in which the IEP team members can listen to each member’s point of view and work together to complete the development of a high quality IEP.”
A variety of trainings and coaching activities for parents, mentors, advocates and educators have been developed and offered over the past ten years. The training topic areas include communication, conflict resolution, problem-solving, dealing with difficult dynamics, effective IEP meeting strategies, and how to facilitate IEP meetings. These trainings are not offered on a continual basis but are available upon request.
For more information, contact Fran Fletcher by e-mail or 302-831-8158.