By Candace Cortiella, The Advocacy Institute
Since the earliest special education legislation, Congress has recognized that the often complex process of planning and implementing special education programs for students with disabilities might lead to disagreements between schools and families. To help address this inevitable conflict, the Act's procedural safeguards contain several provisions to help schools and families resolve disagreements.
In each of the last two renewals of the Act, in 1997 and more recently in 2004, Congress has sought to provide expanded opportunities for early resolution of disputes. And, in an attempt to provide informal and less contentious ways to resolve disagreements, many states have developed additional strategies for early dispute resolution. Many of these strategies attempt to strengthen relationships between parents and school personnel. They offer a range of informal problem-solving and conflict resolution approaches, including stakeholder training and Individualized Education Program (IEP) facilitation.
Within special education, conflicts arise between schools and families for a variety of reasons. Most often, the design and/or delivery of special education services form the basis for the disagreement. Design issues include:
Delivery issues include problems associated with implementing the student's IEP that has been agreed upon by the family and the school district. Delivery issues include:
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