1. Make a request for mediation in writing
You must request mediation by writing a letter to the Illinois State Board of Education or calling them at the number below. A date will be set that both parties agree to.
Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE)
100 N. First Street Springfield, IL 62777-0001
(217) 782-5589 (Mediation Coordinator)
Toll Free (866) 262-6663
Both sides must have someone with legal authority to act for their side. You have the legal authority to act for your child. However, on the school's side, only certain people may have the power to authorize a decision at the mediation. Someone with that power must be at the mediation. Generally, each side can bring up to 3 people.
3. Go to the mediation
Then each side will give their opening statement. An opening statement is a chance for each party to tell their story. You should give a short summary of the problem and what you want to happen as a result of mediation.
Each side must wait to speak until after the other party is done. Neither party can call witnesses or conduct a trial.
The mediator will then ask questions and try to state the problems in a way that is clear to both parties. Sometimes the problem is that the 2 parties do not understand each other's concerns. It can be a good starting point to make sure each party agrees on what the problem is.
The mediator may then ask to meet with each side alone. This is called a caucus. Upon your request, the mediator must keep anything that is talked about in the caucus confidential.
You should ask the mediator whether he or she will keep the information private from the other side before you tell it to the mediator.
After the caucus, the mediator will meet with both parties again to try to reach an agreement. You may go through this process a few times during the mediation session before you and the school reach an agreement.
4. Outcome and next steps
Mediation may not work in just one session. You may want to meet again if the discussion has been productive and if there is a possibility of resolving one or more issues. Remember, you do not have to agree to anything at mediation.
If you and the school cannot reach an agreement, you may have no other choice but to go on to a due process hearing. If the case does go to a due process hearing, neither party can use what happened at mediation as evidence for their case. For example, the mediator cannot be called as a witness at the due process hearing.
Another option is to request an IEP meeting, or to file an ISBE complaint.
If a mediation leads to an agreement between you and the school, the agreement must be put in writing. You and the school are legally obligated to follow what is laid out in the agreement. Do not sign the agreement if you do not agree with it.