• Mediation of special education disputes and the use of participant feedback: A multi-state study

      Rosenfeld, Joseph G.; DuCette, Joseph P.; Folger, Joseph P., 1951- (Temple University. Libraries, 2008)
      Mediation of special education disputes varies between states. This study addressed the ways in which the practices and methods of evaluation differ between five states: Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New Jersey. This includes such factors as provision of services, alternative dispute resolution procedures, mediation style, and mediator training. Data were examined regarding mediation rates, rates of agreement, and the types of students/issues involved. The research focused on the ways the states used participant feedback to assess their own performance. Extant data from two states, Iowa and Minnesota, were examined to determine which factors impacted overall evaluation of the mediation process and satisfaction with the outcome. States were similar regarding the provision of services, although the agency overseeing mediation differed. Methods of alternative dispute resolution varied greatly, and were strongly tied to the perspective of each state. Large differences were found between states relating to mediation usage and agreement rates. Content analyses were conducted on the survey instruments. The greatest number of questions addressed the impact on the relationship between participants, followed by fairness of the process, and then skills of the mediator. Overall, participants were satisfied with the mediation process. Satisfaction with the outcome was moderate to high, but diminished over time. There were no significant differences in satisfaction ratings between parents and school officials in either state, but individuals who reached a resolution were most satisfied with the mediation process. The ability to discuss and understand the important issues was the largest predictor of satisfaction. Improved communication in the long term was strongly related to satisfaction, but improved communication within the mediation session was not. Additionally, Iowa parents felt more satisfied when they were better able to understand their own perspective and their views were considered before any solutions or agreements were made. Iowa school officials were more satisfied when they were better able to understand the parents' perspective. In Minnesota, an improved relationship with the other party predicted greater satisfaction with the mediation outcome for the school officials, but not parents. Mediator skills and impartiality were important factors for the school officials only.