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Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Parents concerned about their child’s education are encouraged to contact the child’s teacher, school principal, or LEA special education administrator to discuss their concerns. Informal conversation often resolves the problem and helps maintain open and positive communication.
Disagreement is normal and a natural part of life; however, it is how it is approached and dealt with that determines everyone’s level of comfort with decisions made. Because communication is so important in the development of a child’s educational program, the Kern County Consortium SELPA has embraced the concept of Alternative Dispute Resolution and has become one of many SELPAs in California to begin using its principles to attempt to resolve conflict prior to moving to more formal levels.
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is a no-cost process for resolving conflicts, one that respects the dignity of individuals while creating mutually satisfying solutions. ADR Resolves disagreements and conflicts by focusing on communication, collaboration, negotiation, and mediation to achieve agreements that meet the interests of all the parties involved. ADR provides a variety of options for districts and families seeking to work to resolution at the local level; your first level of contact for starting this process is your district’s Special Education Director. If there are still concerns, the SELPA Intake Coordinator* can be contacted to facilitate finding the option that best fits the need at the time.
Local ADR Options
Collaborative IEP Process
Many districts have administrators and teachers trained in the Collaborative IEP Process – this is a very structured, clear process where agreement is reached at each point in the IEP before moving on. Often parents and districts find they agree on many more things than they disagree on and can build on those areas to reach a compromise.
Expert Teams/SELPA Intake Coordinator*
There are professionals throughout KC Consortium SELPA who have been deemed as Experts in their field of practice. If a parent/district is having challenges and wishes a team to come in and review the assessments/IEPs/concerns and offer their opinions, that is possible. The Parent or District Representative may contact the SELPA Intake Coordinator* to coordinate that effort on the part of the requesting party. The Coordinator follows up to ensure that the Team assisted in the process.
The Local Intake Coordinator can help locate a trained IEP Facilitator to help an IEP team build and improve relationships among team members by using techniques including pre-meeting preparation and follow-up tasks. This Facilitator is a neutral party that clarifies the agenda and meeting outcomes, enforces working agreements, keeps the group focused on the IEP process, encourages problem solving, monitors time and encourages participation by all team members. The goal is to achieve a signed IEP that all team members feel represents all the issues needed to educate that student.
Parents and districts will be able to participate in no cost, impartial local mediation when desired. Local mediation uses an effective problem-solving method through a Mediator who will discuss possible solutions and develop agreements that are mutually acceptable to both parties. It is a safe, low-pressure process. The final agreements will be committed to writing in a facilitated or collaborative IEP.
*Currently in development
*SELPA Intake Coordinator
Julianna L. Gaines, Executive Director
KC Consortium SELPA
1300 17th St.
Bakersfield, CA 93301
(661) 636-4801 office
(661) 333-3471 cell
(661) 636-4810 fax