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Principles for Mediation

These principles and the laws of the State of Nebraska as promulgated by the Dispute Resolution Act apply to any disputes which are submitted to an approved center. All parties agree to abide by these Principles when they sign an Agreement To Mediate.

APPOINTMENT OF MEDIATORS - The Center will appoint one or more mediators from a pool of volunteer mediators and/or staff who meet State training requirements. The mediators must disclose any possible conflict of interest which may exist with any party of the dispute. Either party or the Center may reject a mediator on the basis of such disclosure or for other valid reasons. If this occurs, a new mediator will be appointed by the Center. The mediators have no authority to make decisions for the parties or impose any adjudicator sanction or penalties upon the parties.

FEES FOR SERVICE - No one will be denied mediation services due to an inability to pay fees. The Nebraska Department of Education, Special Populations Office will pay for mediation services relating to disputes about special education.

ASSISTANCE OF AN ATTORNEY - Each party may desire to consult an attorney in order to be fully informed about individual legal interests, rights and obligations. You may have an attorney present at the mediation. If so, please advise the Center as soon as possible so the other party may be advised. You are responsible for all costs for legal representation. Any attorneys present at the mediation will be asked to limit their participation in order that the parties may actively participate in the resolution of their dispute.

NOTICE OF MEETING - After each party has signed an Agreement to Mediate, the Center will schedule a mediation session within two weeks if possible. Written confirmation of the mediation session will be provided to all parties. The Center will arrange for accessible facilities and services to be used for the mediation. Each party will be notified of the location prior to the first meeting. Please advise the Center of your accommodation requests in advance of the first session.

ADDITIONAL SESSIONS - It may be necessary to hold more than one session in order to reach an agreement. If so, additional sessions will be scheduled with the consent of all parties and the mediators.

ABSENCE OF A PARTY - If a party fails to attend a mediation session, it may be rescheduled once by the Center if it is agreeable to the other party. If a party fails to attend a second session, the mediation may be canceled by the Center.

CONFIDENTIALITY - In accordance with Nebraska Statutes, all verbal or written information relating to the subject matter of a contract and transmitted between any party to a dispute and a mediator or the staff of the Center shall be confidential communications. Mediation proceedings are considered as settlement negotiations and no admission, representation, or statement made in mediation is admissible as evidence or subject to discovery. The mediators will not reveal anything discussed in mediation without permission of all the parties.

The exception to the above is that all parties may agree to waive confidentiality of the contract or other communications. State law requires the Center and mediators to report to the appropriate authorities any instance of child abuse.

IMMUNITY FROM LIABILITY - By state law, no mediator, staff member, or member of a governing board of an approved Center may be held liable for civil damages for any statement or decision made in the process of dispute resolution unless such person acted in a manner exhibiting willful or wanton misconduct. The parties agree that they will not at any time, before, during or after mediation call the mediators in any legal or administrative proceeding concerning this dispute.

TERMINATION OF MEDIATION - While both parties intend to continue with mediation until a written agreement is reached, it is understood that any party may withdraw from mediation at any time. It is also understood that the Special Education due process, complaint procedure, hearing and other resources are available and may be concurrent with or instead of mediation.

If mediators determine that it is not possible for the parties to resolve the dispute through mediation, the process can be terminated with notice to all parties.

COMMUNICATION WITH THE MEDIATORS - No party to the dispute is to contact a mediator outside of a mediation session. Any communication with the mediators is to be made through the Center. Questions should be directed to the Center staff.

MEDIATION AGREEMENT - If the parties involved in the dispute reach an agreement, the terms of the agreement may be put in writing and signed by the parties. Both parties would receive copies of the agreement and an additional copy could become part of the student's educational record. To ensure the continuing viability of the IEP team as the decision making forum, an IEP conference should be convened as soon as possible in order to consider the incorporation of elements of the agreement into the student's IEP and to assure compliance with procedural safeguards.

The final agreement may be enforced as a legal contract between the parties.

COMPLAINT - If you are not satisfied with the services of the Center or the mediators, please contact the Center Director who will attempt to resolve your concerns or problems. If you are still not satisfied, please contact the President of the Mediation Center Board of Directors.

EVALUATION OF SERVICES - At the completion of the mediation process, each party will be asked to complete an evaluation of the services provided by the Center, including the mediators. The aggregate data will be submitted to the Nebraska Department of Education, Special Education Office and the Office of Dispute Resolution.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT - All parties will be asked to sign an Agreement to Mediate which states they have read these Mediation Principles and agree to abide by them while participating in mediation with the Mediation Center.

MEDIATION - is a voluntary process in which two or more persons agree to work with an impartial mediator to assist them to resolve a dispute or conflict.

CENTER - means the organization or agency administering the mediation process and is recognized as a state approved center in accordance with Nebraska Statutes 25-2901.

MEDIATORS - are trained individuals who will attempt to assist the parties to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of their dispute. The mediators shall be impartial, neutral, and unbiased, and shall make no decisions for the parties. The mediators do not provide legal advise or counsel. Mediators of special education disputes have additional training pertinent to special education.

AGREEMENT TO MEDIATE - is the document, signed by each party in which each agrees to enter into mediation.

CAUCUS - as used in mediation, means a process where the mediator meets privately and confidentially with each party to the dispute during the mediation session as a method to gain a better understanding of the issues.

DISPUTES - which may be mediated under these rules include any dispute or disagreement which all parties and the Center agree are appropriate for mediation and assigned to a mediator. Disputes which may be accepted for mediation by the Center are defined by the Dispute Resolution Act and defined by the interagency contract between the Office of Dispute Resolution and the Nebraska Department of Education, Special Populations Office.