What You Need to Know About Alternative Dispute Resolution

Article
Dec. 20, 2021Updated Oct. 7, 2022

What is ADR in school?

How do I ask for ADR?

Is virtual ADR a good option?

“Over the years, parents have become more aware of ADR, but the transition to online dispute resolution and IEP meetings has been a game changer,” explains Harper. Availability has exploded thanks to the virtual option; more of the IEP team can attend, as can the family, which gives them the opportunity of having a more united front as well.

Harper hopes that districts also take the opportunity to look at how some aspects of virtual life actually made things better. “While one con is that you are missing that face-to-face, in-person interaction, the virtual option makes participants much more comfortable and open. And when you’re more relaxed, you have a clearer head to make better, more informed decisions on behalf of the student.”

Things to remember in ADR

  1. Do away with a one-track mindset:

There will rarely be one right answer to any issue being discussed during ADR. So, shift your mindset to: what are the options or possibilities here? “People get so hung up on one specific outcome to solve the problem that they don’t think about the other options in play,” Harper says. “I had a family that was requesting a 1:1 aide. Everyone was going in circles on why this was needed. When I spoke with them one on one, they revealed that their child had gotten hurt playing during recess. So, safety was at the root of their desire, and that was not particularly articulated in the meeting. I said, ‘Let’s have a conversation about safety, then, and talk about other remedies to address safety on the school campus.’ We ended up with about twelve different options to address safety and the family was blown away.”

  1. Get it in writing:

    “If there is an agreement, I recommend putting that in writing and have the district representative and the parents sign, which is good for compliance too,” Purchin says.

  2. Remember this:

“Be hard on the problem and gentle with each other,” Purchin advises.

Those words ring true for so many instances in life.

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Contents


Overview

What is ADR in school?

How do I ask for ADR?

Is virtual ADR a good option?

Things to remember in ADR

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Related Parent Questions

What happens at a due process hearing?
The hearing itself works just like a court of law. Both sides make their case using documentary evidence and call witnesses who know the child or are experts in the field. The judge will then make a binding decision.
Should I agree to a confidential settlement agreement with the school district?
A successful informal meeting or mediation is likely to result in a confidential settlement agreement between you and the district. It is wise to consult a lawyer to make sure you fully understand the implications before agreeing to any waiver.
How do I make sure my child's IEP is being followed?
Review the documentation, speak with service providers and teachers (and your child), visit your child’s classroom, and know what you can do to take action if you discover that the IEP isn’t being followed.

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