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Virginia Administrative Code
Title 8. Education
Agency 20. State Board of Education
Chapter 81. Regulations Governing Special Education Programs for Children with Disabilities in Virginia
6/24/2022

8VAC20-81-190. Mediation.

A. Each local educational agency shall ensure that the parent(s) of a child with a disability are informed of the option of mediation to resolve disputes involving any matter arising under Part B of the Act, including the identification, evaluation, or educational placement and services of the child, the provision of a free appropriate public education to the child, and matters arising prior to the filing of a state complaint or request for a due process hearing. Mediation is available to resolve these issues at any time a joint request is made to the Virginia Department of Education from a school representative and a parent. (§ 22.1-214 B of the Code of Virginia; 34 CFR 300.506(a))

B. The local educational agency shall use the Virginia Department of Education's mediation process to resolve such disputes. The procedures shall ensure that the process is: (§ 22.1-214 B of the Code of Virginia; 34 CFR 300.506(b)(1))

1. Voluntary on the part of both the local educational agency and parent;

2. Not used to deny or delay a parent's(s') right to a due process hearing or to deny any other rights afforded under the Act; and

3. Conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques and who is knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.

C. The local educational agency or the Virginia Department of Education may establish procedures to offer parents and schools who choose not to use the mediation process an opportunity to meet, at a time and location convenient to them, with a disinterested party who is under contract with a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in Virginia established under § 1471 or 1472 of the Act; or an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity. The purpose of the meeting would be to explain the benefits of and encourage the parent(s) to use the mediation process. (34 CFR 300.506(b)(2))

D. In accordance with the Virginia Department of Education's procedures: (34 CFR 300.506(b)(3) and (4))

1. The Virginia Department of Education maintains a list of individuals who are qualified mediators, knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services, and trained in effective mediation techniques;

2. The mediator is chosen on a rotation basis; and

3. The Virginia Department of Education bears the cost of the mediation process, including costs in subsection C of this section.

E. The mediation process shall: (34 CFR 300.506(b)(5) through (b)(8))

1. Be scheduled in a timely manner and held in a location that is convenient to the parties to the dispute;

2. Conclude with a written legally binding agreement, if an agreement is reached by the parties to the dispute, that:

a. States that all discussions that occurred during the mediation process will remain confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearing or civil proceeding;

b. Is signed by both the parent and a representative of the local educational agency who has the authority to bind the local educational agency; and

c. Is enforceable in any state or federal court of competent jurisdiction.

3. Guarantee that discussions that occur during the mediation process are confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings of any state or federal court. Parties to the mediation process may be required to sign a consent form to mediate containing a confidentiality pledge prior to the commencement of the mediation process.

F. An individual who serves as a mediator: (34 CFR 300.506(c))

1. May not be an employee of any local educational agency or the Virginia Department of Education if it is providing direct services to a child who is the subject of the mediation process;

2. Shall not have a personal or professional conflict of interest, including relationships or contracts with schools or parents outside of mediations assigned by the Virginia Department of Education; and

3. Is not an employee of the local educational agency or the Virginia Department of Education solely because the person is paid by the agency to serve as a mediator.

Statutory Authority

§§ 22.1-16 and 22.1-214 of the Code of Virginia; 20 USC § 1400 et seq.; 34 CFR Part 300.

Historical Notes

Derived from Virginia Register Volume 25, Issue 21, eff. July 7, 2009.

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