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NYPI Responds To Shrinking Special Education Services Amid Coronavirus Upheaval

NYPI Responds To Shrinking Special Education Services Amid Coronavirus Upheaval

By Senior Manager, Family Programs, Carol Himes

NYC gives the OK to shrink special education services amid coronavirus upheaval” (Chalkbeat, April 9, 2020) underscores the increased challenges imposed on students with disabilities, their families and educators as a result of the current health crisis.

New York Peace Institute and other Community Dispute Resolution Centers (CDRCs) across New York State provide free, legally binding Special Education mediation that empowers both parents and educators to find creative and durable solutions to disputes about a student’s educational plan (IEP).

In mediation, disputes about service delivery and adjustments can be resolved, as can issues such as placement, services, classification, evaluation, and behaviors. Special Education mediation is also available now to address disputes raised by remote service delivery and adjustments caused by the current health crisis. With the cooperation of the NYC Department of Education, mediation centers like New York Peace Institute are offering Special Education mediation services through video conferencing platforms.

Unlike Impartial Hearings, which take many months to be conducted even under the best of circumstances, mediations help people sort out their differences quickly since they are typically held within weeks of a request. It is also important to note that participants in Special Education mediations reach agreement over 80% of the time, and those agreements are as binding as Impartial Hearing orders. But perhaps the best part about mediation is that it offers a “safe space” to openly address other issues, such as the breakdown of communication and trust, which often occurs between parents and schools during disputes about a child’s special needs. Participants in Special Education mediation have noted, in a number of cases, that they felt their concerns were truly heard for the first time.  Overwhelmed by the complexities of the Special Education system and the intense needs of children, both parents and schools are given the opportunity in mediation to express their frustrations and speak from the heart, which can lead to a positive outcome for all.

New York Peace Institute provides Special Education mediation for cases involving students in school in Brooklyn and Manhattan. For more information about New York Peace Institute mediation services, please email chimes@nypeace.org.

For inquiries regarding students in all other NY counties, contact the New York State Dispute Resolution Association at disabilityprograms@nysdra.org