Mediating Special Education Disputes in Massachusetts

Event Date: Wednesday December 14, 2005
Time: 8:30-10:00am (Continental Breakfast at 8:00)
Location: Pound Hall, 2nd Floor, John Chipman Gray Room, Harvard Law School

Nancy Grant
Steve Lilly-Weber
Susan Papanek McHugh

For nearly 30 years, the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals (BSEA) has used mediation to help parents and public school districts resolve disputes about individualized education plans. In fiscal year 2005, eight BSEA mediators conducted nearly 800 mediation sessions. This presentation will explore the challenges and rewards of this work, describe the model that the mediators use, and offer a brief overview of the highly regulated environment in which special education mediation occurs.

Nancy Grant has been a mediator at the BSEA since January 2004. She previously worked extensively with youth and educators, establishing and coordinating peer mediation programs in the Boston Public Schools.

Steve Lilly-Weber has been a mediator at the BSEA since March 2004. From 1996-2004, he was a Regional Coordinator of Mediation Services at the Office of the Massachusetts Attorney General. Steve has been a volunteer mediator at the Community Dispute Settlement Center (Cambridge) since 1987 and now serves on CDSC’s Board of Directors.

Susan Papanek McHugh has been a mediator at the Massachusetts Bureau of Special Education Appeals since 1998 and conducts 100 mediations per year with parents and school districts in the Greater Boston area. From 1994 though 1998, Susan was legal counsel to the Massachusetts Department of Education.


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