SEC. 37-23-141. Mediation; promulgation of rules and regulations; confidentiality.
(1) The State Department of Education shall promulgate the necessary rules and regulations to establish a mediation system which, at a minimum, shall be available whenever a due process hearing under IDEA is requested. The mediation system shall allow parties the opportunity to resolve such disputes involving any matter relating to the identification, evaluation or educational placement of the child, or the provision of a free appropriate public education to such child.
(2) The State Department of Education shall ensure that the mediation process is:
(a) Voluntary on the part of the parties;
(b) Not used to deny or delay a parent's right to a due process hearing under IDEA or to deny any other rights afforded under IDEA; and
(c) Conducted by a qualified and impartial mediator who is trained in effective mediation techniques.
(3) The State Department of Education may establish procedures to require parents who choose not to use the mediation process to meet, at a time and location convenient to the parents, with a disinterested party who is under contract with a parent training and information center or community parent resource center in the state established under IDEA, or an appropriate alternative dispute resolution entity. The purpose of the meeting is to encourage the use, and explain the benefits, of the mediation process to the parents.
(4) The State Department of Education shall maintain a list of individuals who are qualified mediators and knowledgeable in laws and regulations relating to the provision of special education and related services.
(5) The state shall bear the cost of the mediation process, including the costs of all meetings described in this section.
(6) Each session in the mediation process shall be scheduled in a timely manner and shall be held in a location that is convenient to the parties in dispute.
(7) An agreement reached by the parties to the dispute in the mediation process shall be set forth in a written mediation agreement.
(8) Discussions that occur during the mediation process shall be confidential and may not be used as evidence in any subsequent due process hearings or civil proceedings and the parties to the mediation process may be required to sign a confidentiality pledge prior to the commencement of such process.
SOURCES: Laws, 1999, ch. 582, § 5, SB 2506, eff from and after July 1, 1999.
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