The Nebraska Department of Education

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==General Information==
==General Information==
* Official name: The Nebraska Department of Education
* Official name: The Nebraska Department of Education

Current revision as of 17:41, 2 June 2010


[edit] General Information

  • Official name: The Nebraska Department of Education
  • Country: USA
  • City: Lincoln
  • Type of organization: Non-profit organization
  • Date of creation: -
  • Interests: Mediation
  • Fields of expertise: All types of Disputes

[edit] Overview

In 1991, the Nebraska Legislature passed the Dispute Resolution Act, creating the Nebraska Office of Dispute Resolution (ODR) in the Administration of the Courts/Probation Office, Nebraska Supreme Court. Its purpose is to oversee the development of dispute resolution in Nebraska, with a focus on nonprofit mediation centers & court-established programs. It is a cooperative effort between the public & private sectors designed to create an efficient, effective, & responsive system that enhances existing structures & also introduces new opportunities to prevent & resolve conflict.

The approach is interdisciplinary & inter-governmental, working with the public & private sectors at all levels & in all disciplines. In order to implement this comprehensive approach, the ODR system itself is built upon interdisciplinary principals. The State Advisory Council, assisting ODR at the state level, is comprised of individuals with diverse professional, cultural & geographic backgrounds. Members of the various boards of directors & mediators affiliated with the approved mediation centers are likewise diverse, reflecting the uniqueness of the different areas of the state.

The ODR system operates on a collaborative basis between ODR, the Advisory Council, and the mediation centers. Through joint & shared decision-making, programming, & fundraising, this integrated system has created a comprehensive, accessible, quality service structure that allows for the user friendly, excellent mediation option to serve families & educators involved with special education.

Since 1992, development of the dispute resolution system in Nebraska has created a sustainable infrastructure through the formation of the mediation centers, program policies & procedures, training institute & curriculum development, as well as outreach & education efforts. Centers handle the ever expanding case & project load as well as the growing demand for training. The Nebraska special education mediation option is standardized statewide for excellence & accountability, while reflecting the unique interests & needs of each of the six regional service areas. The Mediation Option fulfills more than the letter, especially the spirit of mediation in special education disputes.

Mediation is a process in which trained mediators assist people in conflict to communicate & to make voluntary, informed choices in an effort to find a mutually acceptable resolution to their dispute. The mediators strive to be impartial, neutral & unbiased. The Nebraska mediation model is interest-based & facilitative, focusing on the participants' needs in order to find workable, lasting, self-enforcing solutions. Mediation ethics derive from the mediators respect for each participant's uniqueness, personal & cultural values, dignity, competence & right to self-determination.

Mediation can take place anytime, before or instead of filing a lawsuit, after or before a complaint or petition is filed, or after a case has been heard or dismissed.

[edit] Nebraska's Non-profit Mediation Centers

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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. The parties may have an attorney present at the mediation. If so, they are pleased to advise the Center as soon as possible so the other party may be advised. The parties 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] 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.

[edit] Complaint

If a party is not satisfied with the services of the Center or the mediators, he/she is pleased to contact the Center Director who will attempt to resolve your concerns or problems. If a party is still not satisfied, he/she is pleased to contact the President of the Mediation Center Board of Directors.

[edit] 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.

[edit] Ackowledgement

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.

[edit] Contact

301 Centennial Mall South. Lincoln NE, 68509 - USA

Tel: (402) 471-6695


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