Mediation differs from the resolution session in four important ways. First, in mediation, there is a neutral person (the mediator) to help parents and the district reach an agreement. The resolution session is more like holding another IEP meeting with school staff. Second, in a mediation conference, all discussions remain confidential and cannot be disclosed in a subsequent hearing or court case. Resolution session regulations do not prohibit participants from disclosing this information in a later hearing (unless confidentiality is voluntarily agreed to).
Third, unlike an agreement reached at a resolution session, there is no automatic three-day “grace period” in which either side can void the agreement reached in mediation. Fourth, the 45-day timeline for a final decision in the case continues to run while mediation is pending; the time period stopsrunning during the resolution session process.
[20 U.S.C. Sec. 1415(i)(3)(D)(iii); 34 C.F.R. Sec. 300.510; Cal. Ed. Code Sec. 56501.5; 5 C.C.R. Sec. 3086.]
You should examine these factors in deciding whether to mediate instead of going to a resolution session. Remember, however, you must attend a resolution session unless both sides waive resolution in writing.